Oh, Madrid, weren’t you just absolutely boiling this weekend? Spanish people may be used to the heat, but even locals found it important to make a point of Live Nation’s choice to hold Mad Cool Festival in the hottest week of the year. It was something which definitely played a part in the disappointing crowd levels, which often waned at the start of the night before only getting busier as the sun started to set. Not ideal when you’ve got a programme which starts at 6pm, the hottest time of the day. Even less ideal when some of the weekend’s best artists found themselves standing in front of a crowd so meagre you’d be forgiven for thinking it was still a soundcheck. Still, though, Mad Cool found itself pulling off a memorable edition. For the first time in its short history it hosted a fourth day (topped by Bring Me the Horizon), with the previous edition’s teething issues largely smoothed out in order to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for festivalgoers. There were tons of spectacular performances across the weekend, some by established greats and some by the big stars of the future. Today we introduce you to Mad Cool 2019’s twenty five best performances, as determined by Jack Parker and Mitchell Giebels.

25 METRONOMY

What we said: Metronomy were unable to match Don Broco’s energy levels, but then again it’s not like you’re able to compare the two. Where Don Broco bring the hard-hitting energy, Joe Mount and co. bring the grooves. New album Metronomy Forever is due in September, with the band’s funky Mad Cool set giving crowds a taste of what’s to come in the sickly sweet Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Old hits The Look and Love Letters received rousing renditions, sounding as fresh as ever for a band who have never shied away from reinventing themselves.”

Metronomy. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Metronomy. (c) Mitchell Giebels

24 LEWIS CAPALDI

What we said: “The day started in the searing heat on the Comunidad de Madrid Stage with Scottish singer-songwriter and social media star Lewis Capaldi. Capaldi’s no stranger to success, having blown in recent months due to a slew of sickly sweet, incredibly sad break-up songs. Asking a jubilant crowd (complete with novelty Celtic fans) if they liked rock and roll proved to be the highlight of the show, simply due to the fact that his response was banter of the highest order. “You came to the wrong feckin’ gig” he joked. He didn’t melt in the heat, but it wouldn’t have been a shock if he did.”

Lewis Capaldi. (c) Jack Parker

Lewis Capaldi. (c) Jack Parker

23 THE NATIONAL

What we said: The National took to the stage as the official second day headliner, tugging at the heartstrings of many a fan with cuts from new album I Am Easy To Find. Flanked by three backing singers (among them Lisa Hannigan), Matt Berninger and co. made for one of the most magistral moments of the weekend on highlights Don’t Swallow the Cap and The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness. Mad Cool’s poor ticket sales may have given the field an empty feeling, but on the inside fans were far from empty. They were full, emotionally.”

The National. (c) Jack Parker

The National. (c) Jack Parker

22 JOHNNY MARR

What we said: “Former Smiths guitarist and all-round legend Johnny Marr has become somewhat of a solo phenomenon in his own right of late, brushing aside the endless comparisons with his former band by bringing out a constant stream of fresh and exciting solo work. His set in Madrid kicked off proceedings on the main stage in absolutely searing heat, centring the show on latest album Call the Comet. He found time to slip three Smiths song into the set, which closed on a rousing rendition of There is a Light That Never Goes Out. Given the circumstances Marr found himself in at that point (40 degree heat at the start of the night), he did a pretty good job of keeping the crowd interested.”

Johnny Marr. (c) Jack Parker

Johnny Marr. (c) Jack Parker

21 LE BUTCHERETTES

What we said: “The first highlight of the night came in the shape of Le Butcherettes, who drew a sizeable crowd to the Consequence of Sound stage by means of their hypnotic alternative rock. Frontwoman Teri Gender Bender is an absolute force of nature onstage, tearing through an energetic set alongside her band as if it was her last day on Earth. The Mexican punks managed to work the crowd up into a frenzy towards the end, pulling that particular stage’s biggest crowd of the weekend by a country mile.”

Le Butcherettes. (c) Jack Parker

Le Butcherettes. (c) Jack Parker

20 VINCE STAPLES

What we said: Vince Staples had trouble pulling a sizeable crowd to the Comunidad stage some moments later, which was likely down to an unfortunate overlap with Billy Corgan’s ego. Although Staples’ show was one of the day’s best, you could definitely sense the disappointment on his face at the sparsity of the crowd. Which is a shame, because critical darlings like Vince Staples are unmissable live acts.”

Vince Staples. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Vince Staples. (c) Mitchell Giebels

19 PALACE

What we said: “Day three of Mad Cool’s tragically undersold fourth edition kicked off with a set from indie folk collective Palace, who pulled off a memorable set in front of an unfortunately sparse crowd. Playing at 6pm in Spain isn’t cut out for everyone, especially when you bear in mind that temperatures were bordering on the 40 degrees at this point. Not that this fazed Palace, though, who still put on a great display.”

Palace. (c) Jack Parker

Palace. (c) Jack Parker

18 BON IVER

What we said: Bon Iver provided a contrasting performance over on the main stage, serving as the day’s official headliner. As headliner, Justin Vernon was always going to have a tough time on such an all encompassing stage. His music thrives on intimacy, its delicacies always best rewarded through close attention. Headlining the opening night is most suited to a more upbeat artists to meet the crowd’s excitement. As amazing as the sound is, better than any previous years on the main stage, the general chatter drowns out the subtleties. The average attendee here wants something they can shout along to, but Bon Iver is not that man. It’s a shame, as his performance is pristine. Despite the tight production of 22, A Million, these songs sound more vital and powerful on stage than ever before. Vernon gives it his all, but it only reaches the ears of the faithful. New album i,i is due at the end of the summer, with the initial teaser tracks promising a hell of a lot for the future direction Vernon seems to be heading in.”

17 MARINA

What we said: “Mad Cool has taken the bold step of booking a healthy dose of pop acts this year, something which has gone down well with crowds at festivals around Europe (just look at Rosalía, for example). One of the third day’s biggest draws was Marina, who delivered an airtight exercise in pop perfection as the sun slowly started to set. New album LOVE + FEAR is a rebirth of sorts for the Greek singer, who was flanked by colourful dancers and backing vocalists during her set. Early highlight Hollywood slotted in nicely alongside the newer cuts, with fan favourite Primadonna marking the highlight of the hour.”

MARINA. (c) Mitchell Giebels

MARINA. (c) Mitchell Giebels

16 NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS

What we said: Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds took on the second main stage, showcasing cuts from across both his solo and Oasis back catalogues. The highlight, though? His rousing rendition of The Beatles’ All You Need is Love. Because in a world where the Gallagher brothers still detest one another, love really is all you need.”

Noel Gallagher. (c) Jack Parker

Noel Gallagher. (c) Jack Parker

15 VAMPIRE WEEKEND

What we said: Vampire Weekend turned the main stage into one massive party pit at the same time, treating Madrid to cuts from fantastic new album Father of the Bride. Ezra Koenig is forever the charming frontman, gearing up the crowd as they careered towards all-round anthem A-Punk. It’s a song which for many stands as the pinnacle of 2000s indie rock, and it’s hard to believe anything otherwise.”

Vampire Weekend. (c) Jack Parker

Vampire Weekend. (c) Jack Parker

14 SHEAFS

What we said: “Sheffield’s SHEAFS tore the MondoSonoro Stage a new one, and that is all you need to know.”


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13 THE HIVES

What we said: “That brazen energy was also present over on the third stage, where The Hives did exactly what they do best: cause carnage and look good while doing so. Pelle Almqvist is the perfect frontman, his energy boundless and voice nearly flawless. If Tick Tick Boom didn’t get you going, then nothing will and that’s a fact.”

The Hives. (c) Mitchell Giebels

The Hives. (c) Mitchell Giebels

12 TASH SULTANA

What we said: “Australian multi instrumentalist Tash Sultana proved exactly why she belongs on a stage as big as the main one. Sultana has become somewhat of a phenomenon among European listeners, her loop-infused indie folk striking a real chord with fans up and down the country. So much so that she’s now able to sell out entire arena’s on the back of her mesmerising guitar work and vocals. This was no different in Madrid, where she had the field in the palm of her hands. Once hit track Jungle kicked in, you could be certain of the fact that not a single person had their eyes diverted away from the stage.”

Tash Sultana. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Tash Sultana. (c) Mitchell Giebels

11 DON BROCO

What we said: “British rockers Don Broco kicked off proceedings on the festival’s second main stage, performing for forty minutes to a small but dedicated crowd where the energy made up for any lack of crowd. Frontman Rob Damiani will always be an ultimate force to be reckoned with both on and (as we discovered) off stage,  descending into the crowd towards the end of his band’s set. Highlight and finale T Shirt Song saw the crowd wave their t shirts around in the air, marking a massive start to a massive day.”

Don Broco. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Don Broco. (c) Mitchell Giebels

10 EMPIRE OF THE SUN 

What we said: “Back on the Madrid te Abraza Stage, Empire of the Sun closed out proceedings with a reimagined set centred on seminal album Walking on a Dream. The debut album celebrates a decade of existence this year, having formed out an intrinsic part of late 2000s pop music upon its release. The Australian duo found themselves flanked by alien-like dancers as frontman Luke Steele donned his most flamboyant and extravagant gowns and headgear. Opening on the massive Standing on the Shore, Steele and compatriot Nick Littlemore did their thing under an enormous video screen which projected trippy imagery for the bulk of the night. As you’d expect, though, it wasn’t until mega smash hit Walking on a Dream that the relatively packed field lost its collective shit. It’s one of the best songs of the last nineteen years, and one which – alongside its creators – deserves a space on the pop music hall of fame. Empire of the Sun don’t tour Europe often (this was their first show in Madrid), which made their late night Mad Cool set all the more special.”

Empire of the Sun. (c) Jack Parker

Empire of the Sun. (c) Jack Parker

9 THE SLOW READERS CLUB

What we said: “Back on the Consequence of Sound stage, The Slow Readers Club made for one of the biggest surprises of the day. The Manchester rockers didn’t have much to work with crowd-wise, but a small group of diehard fans down the front made up for this. “Readers! Readers” they cheered as the band took to the stage, kicking off on a snappy one-two of Fool For Your Philosophy and Lunatic. They set the bar very high from the off, and sustained this so well that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were a stadium band back home in the UK. Alas, though, for they aren’t there just yet.”

The Slow Readers Club. (c) Mitchell Giebels

The Slow Readers Club. (c) Mitchell Giebels

8 BRING ME THE HORIZON 

What we said: “Back on the main stage, headliners Bring Me the Horizon marked their biggest Spanish show to date. New album amo is a big departure from their previous output, serving as the perfect sonic progression for a band who have never been afraid to switch things up in the studio. This time round, they’ve also switched things up live, upping the production value with tons of TV screens, walkways, creepy dancers and the like. Frontman Oli Sykes wears a red suit emblazoned with newspaper cuttings off mass murder verdicts (including the Manson cult), his vocals a mix of snarling growls and serene cleans. People have given him shit in the past for not delivering live, but it seems to be the case that he’s cleaned up his vocal act for the better. Set opener MANTRA (complete with the aforementioned dancers) set the tone instantly, hitting hard as co2 blew across the stage like a mushroom cloud. A frenetic and fire-laden House of Wolves followed early on, turning the intensity up by a few notches before the restrained medicine turned it down a touch too many. The 75 minute long set served as a perfect time capsule, focussing on everything the band has done so well in the past whilst also providing doubters with a glimpse of the future. Shadow Moses and wonderful life produced the pits, with Grimes collaboration nihilist blues starting a mini rave as Sykes made his way up the VIP tower at the end of the pit divider. He spent a while up here, finishing the song before he ordered a drink at the bar. A humanising moment, you could say. It wasn’t until set closer Throne that everything came together though, with the Sheffield quintet (minus guitarist Lee Malia) absolutely tearing the house down in what should serve as their best Spanish appearance to date. It’s going to be a busy summer for the band, but at this rate it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a strong one.”

Bring Me the Horizon. (c) Jack Parker

Bring Me the Horizon. (c) Jack Parker

7 PROPHETS OF RAGE

What we said: “Back on the second main stage, Prophets of Rage performed their first European show in over a year in front of a relatively packed field. The supergroup consists of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill members, most notably guitarist Tom Morello and vocalist B-Real, having released a debut record back in 2017 which blended the best elements of each aforementioned band. There’s new music in the pipeline, with Made With Hate receiving its debut showing in Madrid. The fiercely political banger came early on in a set which successfully did its best to avoid becoming a nostalgia trip of sorts, something bands like Prophets of Rage often run the risk of becoming. Not that there wasn’t time for any nostalgia at all, though, with a Public Enemy and Cypress Hill medley climaxing on a bouncy Insane in the Brain, before Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In the Name tore Madrid a new one.”

Prophets of Rage. (c) Jack Parker

Prophets of Rage. (c) Jack Parker

6 IGGY POP

What we said: “Anyway, back to Iggy Pop. The fact that he was billed on the festival’s third biggest stage raised eyebrows back when it was announced, but once he kicked into gear on the infectious I Wanna Be Your Dog all was forgiven. It doesn’t matter on which stage he stands, because the end result is always the same: memorable, iconic and frankly mad. At 72, Iggy still possesses the boundless energy of a 22 year old, descending into the crowd early on and giving the field a sight to behold. Mad Cool hasn’t been rocked this hard in a very long time.”

Iggy Pop. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Iggy Pop. (c) Mitchell Giebels

5 GRETA VAN FLEET

What we said: Greta van Fleet took to the Comunidad stage at the god awful hour of gone 1am, blending ferocious rock and roll with stadium-ready antics for what turned out to be a memorable hour of balls-out riffs, rhythms and anthems. For all the negative comments they receive online from so-called ‘haters’, you’ve got to admit that the live show is an incredibly tight affair. Led Zeppelin-lite or not, Greta van Fleet know what they’re doing.”

Greta van Fleet. (c) Mitchell Giebels

Greta van Fleet. (c) Mitchell Giebels

4 BLACK MIDI

What we said: “Back to black midi, though. The quartet took absolutely no prisoners from the off as they kicked straight into the abrasive and almost violent Near DT, MI. It’s a surefire contender for one of the song of the decade, it’s no-holds-barred intensity an outlet of pure chaos. It set the tone nicely for what followed on the Consequence of Sound stage, with the likes of the intricate Ducter and Speedway serving as further highlights alongside 953, the opening track on massive debut album Schlagenheim. Although black midi are one of the most left field bands on Mad Cool’s bill, they’re by far the best. And by far, we mean far.”

black midi. (c) Jack Parker

black midi. (c) Jack Parker

3 THE CURE

What we said: “Some nostalgia trips are worth reliving, just ask The Cure. They topped the bill on Mad Cool’s final day with a career-spanning main stage set that never failed to disappointed. Over the course of 150 minutes and 27 songs, Robert Smith and co. had the crowd in the palm of their hands, opening on a twinkling rendition of Plainsong as they slowly built up the intensity song by song. An early presentation of Pictures of You set the tone for the career-spanning set, one which found an early highlight in the magistral A Forest before peaking – of course – on the legendary Friday I’m In Love. It’s a song which will forever stand the test of time for a band as Chameleon-esque as The Cure, and who are in no danger of falling out of relevance any time soon. With a new album expected soon, it looks like a new era is about to unravel itself for the Crawley icons.”

The Cure. (c) Jack Parker

The Cure. (c) Jack Parker

2 ROSALÍA

What we said: “Speaking of spectacles, though: Rosalía. The future of pop lies in Spain. More specifically, the future of pop rests in the hands of Rosalía. The Catalonian vocalist made her name a couple of years ago when she took the flamenco world by storm, subtly leaving it somewhat behind as she delved headfirst into Latin pop on last year’s El Mal Querer. Its release propelled her into the upper echelons of modern day pop music, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect when you bear in mind the successes that Latin artists have enjoyed in 2019. Appearing on the main stage, and backed by a group of dancers, backing vocalists and a percussionist, Rosalía delivered pop perfection with the utmost swagger and assurance. Set closer MALAMENTE served as the highlight of the early evening show, cementing her status as the future Queen of Pop. Spectacular.”

Rosalía. (c) Jack Parker

Rosalía. (c) Jack Parker

1 THE 1975

What we said: “One band whose idolisation of The Cure nearly got in the way of their own performance was Saturday’s standout group, The 1975. It didn’t take long for frontman Matt Healy to berate the festival’s choice of scheduling them at the exact same time as Robert Smith and co., and you can’t blame him for his annoyance. Although the overlap in fans isn’t too big, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for The 1975 as they performed to a Comunidad Stage crowd far smaller than what their current status warrants. It gave the show a definite sense of rare intimacy (emphasised by the lack of backing dancers), something which you won’t get to experience all too often from a band as prominent as Healy’s. New album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships formed the backbone of their late night Madrid show, with highlights TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME and Sincerity Is Scary slotting in nicely alongside fan favourite Love Me, the emotional Robbers and set closer The Sound. As soon as the show came to a close, the band jumped into minivans which raced them down to the main stage in order to catch The Cure’s encore. Which we probably all would have done, to be honest.”

The 1975. (c) Mitchell Giebels

The 1975. (c) Mitchell Giebels

The 1975. (c) Jack Parker

The 1975. (c) Jack Parker