As Sparks brought their show to a close, a conga-line of gleeful festival-goers weaved through the crowd. This joyous affair was mirrored by Sparks’ ordinarily po-faced keyboardist Ron Mael, who, breaking character and departing his piano, launched into a bizarrely euphoric jig.

The ideal festival performance then – colourfully chaotic and musically polished. The American duo weren’t alone, however. Primavera Sound 2023, Barcelona’s flagship festival, attracted almost as many 80’s British icons as it did British music-lovers/holiday-goers, icons who share in Sparks’ joie de vivre.

©️ of Primavera sound. 

Pet Shop Boys, fronted by the exquisitely dressed Neil Tenant, romped through hits that shimmered beneath Tenant’s array of chic jackets and Chris Lowe’s sparkling synthesisers. New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ was greeted like a forgotten friend and Depeche Mode’s David Gahan wiggled his way through ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ like a sensual sidewinder. Then there was Blur’s first festival performance in eight years, the return of ‘Parklife’ and ‘Song 2’, as well as four friends whose boyish silliness was as carefree as a group of 12-year-olds (the age at which Albarn and Coxon met).

EDM showings came via Fred Again’s swelling house builds and Skrillex (yes really, Skrillex), with a show so pyromaniacal the lighting rig literally caught fire, halting the performance for 30-minutes.

The indoor and all-seated Auditori Rockdelux remains one of the festival’s unique features. John Cale belied his dotage with a casual demeanour. Many of that crowd returned an hour later for Laurie Anderson, who’s spoken word and avant-garde idiosyncrasy included Anderson instructing the audience to scream with anguish and despair for 10-seconds, something they were more than happy to do.

Primavera Sound genre-hops unashamedly. Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T provided the weekend’s best hip-hop performances while The Comet is Coming and Domi & JD Beck gifted some jazzier moments. Bands like Japanese Breakfast were softer, playing in the early evening sun.

Other performances were heavier. Machine Girl’s throttling combination of speed, digital hardcore and a drummer who looks like he’ll die if he stops electrified the crowd. Likewise, Death Grips’ industrial brutality was raw and Liturgy’s theological black metal was atmospherically dark.

©️ of Primavera sound. 

Primavera Sound is the chameleon of festivals for its variety. The vast and overwhelming lineup even saw The Moldy Peaches perform in Spain for the first time in over two decades. Moments like these make predicting next year’s lineup impossible, but if you want a festival with great weather, no mud and a creative lineup, Primavera Sound have you covered.