Les Eurockéennes de Belfort 2011 review

'Here, we've got a winner, trifecta style'

Les Eurockéennes de Belfort 2011 review

Photographer: Shirlaine ForrestTom Bentley on 07 July 2011

Les Eurockéennes is back with another traditional French knees-up, boasting cracking headliners, a sprinkling of pleasant musical surprises and the odd pleasantry, generally personified by a French comedic act whose songs consist of eulogising about bananas.

Throw in a couple of circuit veterans on one of the most picturesque festival sites in Europe, if not the world, and we’re on to a winner, trifecta style: great music, good food and a buzzing atmosphere.

Battles (7/10) kick off proceeding producing an invigorating set, while on the main stage the beloved Ting Tings (7/10) show their pedigree and increased maturity with a show that mixes singalongs with class. ‘Hands’ shines above the rest of the hits, getting the crowd bouncing on a day where “dancy poppy” is the ordre du jour.

Beth Ditto (7/10) personifies this, whooping out the French in the process to entice her adorers before Metronomy (7/10) fill the night with their typically high pitched, but abundantly captivating wailings.

The only minor disappointment of the night is Wu Lyf (5/10). Maybe it was the pre-summer hype but their set in the quaint Loggia venue didn't really kick off.

Saturday raises the bar. After a heavy night for most campers, including fireworks (unofficial and a tad risky among a sea of flammable nylon) and echoing cries of "apéro" (i.e “drinks, lash”) until paralysis set in, some downright dirty rock and electro is the best hangover cure.

Kyuss Lives! (8/10) oblige on a beach bathed in glorious sunshine. Queens Of The Stone Age (8/10) frontman Josh Homme even pops over to bop his head to his old musical comrades, for a show.

Motorhead (7/10) perforate what eardrums are left, taking things up a decibel or ten with drum solos, confessions of a rockin’ granddad and all. “Last time we played here you weren’t even born,” shouts Lemmy before leaving the stage to QOTSA (8/10) who thunder through stoner-epics, vodka bottle in hand, nailing their headline spot.

The softer side of Saturday is highlighted by Anna Calvi (8/10), whose blues prowess, distinguished voice and covers of Edith Piaf make her the little “chérie” of the festival, a title usually reserved for a French sweetheart.

In complete contrast, arguably the best set of the weekend belongs to Boyz Noise (9/10) a few hours later. The German’s live set has everything, including an eight-minute build up that leaves ravers wreathing in anticipation for the drop. When it does though, it is knee-creakingly good.

On Sunday it’s different band name, same ol’ Liam Gallagher with Beady Eye (7/10). As arrogant as ever, he gets the line of the weekend in: “this song goes out to the ladies, not you, you’re not a lady although you’re acting like one”. Nothing but love for his fans then, who witness a cracking set under radiant sunshine,

The big guns, Arcade Fire (9/10), produce a pitch-perfect set that spans their already timeless classics and a number of blinders from their new album ‘The Suburbs’. It’s only the punters’ crowd-surfing that leaves Win Butler unimpressed, until they stepped it up for finale ‘Now I’m Ready To Stop’.

As Crystal Castles (8/10) rave it up Nintendo-style on the other side of the site, the main stage is then left to UK stalwarts, the Arctic Monkeys (8/10). On form, the quartet all but match their Canadian co-headliners with a quality British rock’n roll show. Tracks from their new album ‘Suck It And See’ cut through with a raw, vintage vigour that keep temperatures high as the bloody freezing night air rolls in.

In the image of Real Madrid, buying the best players in the game works to an extent, but it’s the blend that reigns supreme at Les Eurockéennes de Belfort. A few big names coupled with lesser-known gems ensures they retain their place as a reference for French festies.

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