Rosalia & Rozalen and the Starlite Festival, Marbella August 24th 2018
Starting the night was Rosalia, Dressed in white and starting with 'Malamente', her hit song, backup dancers looking every bit like a Beyonce show. Putting on an amazing theatrical production, switching between her Flamenco fusion and traditional Flamenco album tracks seamlessly.
Her favourite song for me I couldn’t find anywhere so I am guessing it’s from her new album, and it is awesome.
Her show was as varied as it was stunning, dropping into some awe inspiring Sevillana style acapellas, just in case any Flamenco fusion haters were to doubt her credentials she created a drop the mic moment as we sat there spell bound.
One of my favourite things of her music is the use of electronic sounds, making it not so much Hip Hop R&B inspired but equally inspired by the Eurthymics or Yello magic orchestra although I struggle to believe she has heard of either of these acts.
Her amazing use of the vocoder in another awe inspiring acapella being a case in point. Yes, everybody and their cat has used Auto tune in their music although artists like Kanye West put it to more artistic and less cynical use in his Beautiful twisted nightmare album and yet Rosalia’s use of it was even better than that.
And so her show went on, dropping seamlessly between high art and modern Hip Hop R&B in the way that Jay Z and Beyonce (‘The Carters’ I think we now must call them), could only dream of. Yes you may have enough money rent the Louvre for your music Video Mr & Mrs Carter, but you can’t buy class, or artistry and Rosalia has both and bundles of it.
Over all her stage performance with backing dancers was impeccable although at one point she really needed someone to help her change her shoes between dance routine and flamenco tap solo. (There is a reason why CEO’s and famous musicians have assistants, and when a you have a full house waiting for your next move that is an appropriate time to have one.
Props on the night included a Quad bike which worked not so well, once you’ve seen the Rough Riders do stunts with one on stage or M.I.A Sitting on a car during a 2 wheel stunt, its presence seemed a little static.
More effective was the long red rope used in a very Annie Lennox inspired piece with Rosalia sat in the middle of her dancers, singing as they entwining her in it. This was most one of the most beautiful things I Have seen in years.
As a complete music Junkie, sometimes producer and ex assistant to a music lawyer I could definitely get a royalty payments for Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake and Annie Lennox regarding some of the music and melodies lifted from popular songs and given the Rosalia twist. That said, that piece with her entwined in rope still remained one of my favourite pieces. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a lifelong fan of sampling and an advocate of the Shakespearian concept of taking an idea and making it better, but that said, I really need t talk to her producers about being a little more Mark Ronson and a little less Puff Daddy when it comes to lifting samples, melodies and ideas from other artists less they suffer the fate of Ed Sheeran and Robin Thickie).
But all in all Rosalia had set the bar and in doing so made me a fan.
Rozalen started her performance in the completely opposite fashion, telling us that she was nervous, not that it showed. She played to the crowd by talking us and immediately 'praising' the women in the crowd which had us eating out of her hand before she had even sung a note. Overall she was the perfect example of an ‘Encantadora’ so even though she played to the women, (with one quick shout out for the men), she had sold me her girl next door charm and I immediately adored.
Somehow I was a diehard fan before her set had finished.
Rozalen is my version of a classic Spanish artist. As a Guiri who did not grow up this culture I am all too aware of how little of the history of its music I know or understand. So to my innocent and somewhat ignorant eyes Rozalen's set was like watching a updated version of the music that they play in New Year’s night when they go through the ages paying popular Spanish tunes. The only difference being that whereas that process as fun as it might be (12 grapes and a bottle of Cava later) is still a bit cringe worthy, Rozalen’s performance, her songs, her music, all of it was amazing.
Not a hint of the Hip Hop R&B stylings of la Rosalia, just a steady mixture of traditional Spanish rhythm and amazing rock power ballads that literally blew your socks off.
An amazing and engaging performer, no dancers just her band and her assistant who translated her music into sign language.
This was not new as I have seen a performer use a signer before but this lady, whose name I do not know not only translated the lyrics of the song but became an integral part of the performance dancing Knees high on occasion expressing every element of what needed to be expressed and in doing so creating a form of performance poetry unlike anything I had ever seen before. Seriously she was so good she literally should get billing.
As I said I was not familiar with the music of these artists but the crowd certainly were and sang along to many of Rozalen’s songs, phones in the air swaying and completely caught up in the emotion. It was very clear that I was the one missing out and never before had I wanted so much to be a middle aged Spanish female.
As the universe will have it my phone battery died before the last 2 songs meaning that I do not have a copy of the amazing 2nd to last song she performed where she held the crowd in the palm of her hand and got us to sing a simple melody using us a her personal choir until she took back the reins and showed us how it was meant to be done, with power and passion. Again not a new or unique trick but done to perfection, so much so that it felt like one and I was spellbound.
I always note the song that sticks in my head the following day after I have been to a concert or a performance and from this concert it was, Rosalia’s ‘Malamente’. Maybe because she performed it twice, maybe because of the Flamenquitoesque Snoop Dogg... ‘Drop it like it's hot’ beat juxtaposed with her Flamenco/ Sevillana styled vocals, or maybe it was the choreography that etched it into my mind.
Either way by 4pm the following day and it seems it was the winner. Rozalen might have won if my phone battery hadn’t run out and missed the 2nd to last song she performed but as I had no way of reliving it, I guess it faded from memory, either way what 2 great performances equalling one great night.
The Starlite Lounge
And then it was back to the Starlite lounge. To be honest I didn’t mind the show act singers and dancers, in fact they (particularly the male singer), who showed his experience and had a really good voice were actually pretty talented. The problem was the production. Again the Starlite team had shown their ability to take raw talent and turn it into the Las Vegas show from hell you never wanted to see. Oh and if they play that Starlite star bright song again I swear I will return to myself imposed exile for another 4 years.
But most of all, what annoyed me again just like the 1st year was the food. I was so disappointed to see the ‘Mamma Mia’ or whatever they are called Pizza company that I spoke so highly of a few years back had slumped into the same lazy, poor service over priced shit that had been the scourge of the Starlite 1st year. Six Euros for a palm sized pizza, served via poor service from staff that really couldn’t care if you were there or not.
This is the well known problem of having a captive audience and the essence to why capitalism (which the Starlite profits so much from) i.e. rich (or really wannabee rich), people exists. Competition, take away completion and you get bullshit like this, and don’t get me wrong I cannot speak for the restaurants as I didn’t want a sit down meal but the only other option from Mamma Mia’s was a hotdog stand which sold cheese bocadillos for 9 Euros, yes a 9 Euros for bread and cheese.
So as they say the more things change the more they stay the same. Once again The Starlite Festival pretending that its clientele is the super rich as opposed to just normal people who live in Marbella and might just want to go to a good concert, shameful.
Also I noticed something new. The DJ sessions with prominent DJs now go on after the show and I presume all night. So as we were taking the bus from Dr No’s Auditorium down, I saw hundreds of young, well groomed teens and young adults taking the bus back up ready for a night of Starlite partying.
To be honest it looked like it was going to be on hell of a party so my suggestion to you for next year is find an act you like, (eat First less you spend 30 Euros on finger food), go to the show and enjoy the act, then suffer the poor quality Las Vegas after show in the lounge and wait for the night club section of the event so that you can really make a night of it. This will make your evening really good value for money. Do this quickly before the events team cotton on and start to charge you to get back into the venue for the night club. If the price of a sandwich is anything to go by, if they are not doing to already, they will be doing it soon.
Big it without a shadow or a doubt i would put up with Starlite ‘pseudo reich’ bullshit over and over again if i get to see acts like Rosalia and Rozalen. As the shampoo advert goes, they are worth it.