1 of 9
2 of 9
Roger HodgsonJuly 1st, 9.30pm €36-48
3 of 9
Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking OrchestraJuly 2nd, 9.30pm, €32-45
4 of 9
RosanaJuly 3rd, 9.30pm, €24-35
5 of 9
George BensonJuly 5th, 9.30pm, €36-48
6 of 9
AmaralJuly 10th, 9pm, €30-42
7 of 9
Rosario and guest Antonio CarmenJuly 16th, 9.30pm, €30-42
8 of 9
Jeff BeckJuly 22nd, 9.30pm, €36-48
9 of 9
Calle 13 & OrishasJuly 24th, 9pm, €29-36
Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert brought us the first of the International World Fairs, with The Great Exhibition of 1851, for which, in the true spirit of blatant ostentatiousness, the Crystal Palace was built especially for the event. After that, World Fairs took off and as a result we have a whole host of worldwide architectural feats to admire and visit. In France the Eiffel Tower was completed for the 1889 Fair held in Paris and in 1929 it was Barcelona’s turn to be host; as a consequence, we have some of the most iconic buildings in the city including the National Palace, the Magic Fountain, the Teatre Grec and the Olympic Stadium. In addition, architects Ramon Reventós and Francesc Folguera travelled to 1,600 towns and villages all over Spain, and on their return decided to build an entire Spanish village right here.
As a consequence of the two men adopting all the building styles they encountered on their travels, Barcelona now has the rather odd but still somewhat endearing Poble Espanyol, a village inside a city, which fought demolition after the fair, was an internment camp for prisoners during the Civil War and today is one of the city’s more unsung tourist spots.
The kind of attraction loved by parents and endured by kids, Poble Espanyol doesn’t have the romance of the Eiffel Tower; it’s a strange little place sitting up on Montjuïc, but if you thought that it was of no interest to you, think again. For Poble Espanyol is reinventing itself as a venue for outdoor concerts, and this month we have the Concerts d’Estiu del Poble Espanyol, a hugely varied, although admittedly slightly BBC Radio Two-esque series of concerts.
The majority of the line-up is a mixture of, it is fair to say, easy-listening artists such as Roger Hodgson, who will perhaps forever have the words “formerly of Supertramp” after his name, Jeff Beck who is having a great year, not only for being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the same night as Run DMC and Metallica but also for having just recorded a track for Guitar Hero 5, a sign of true contemporary stardom indeed. There’s also George Benson, the illustrious performer who has worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and the multi-talented Al Jarreau during his career. A still prolific stage performer, the unique vocalist started out playing the ukelele in Pittsburgh nightclubs, then moved onto the jazz guitar before going on to play with groups such as the Harlem Underground Band in the Seventies. Also up is Spanish star Rosario, who must have performing in her blood—the daughter of hugely popular Andalucian musician Lola Flores, Rosario has been blessed with her mother’s talents and is as known for her film work as for her Grammy-award winning singing.
These concerts are a fair attempt to drive the lifeblood back into a somewhat dusty and rather redundant venue that falls short of the sheer capacity on offer at venues like the Palau Sant Jordi or the architectural beauty of the Palau de la Música but nevertheless holds fast to an idiosyncratic charm all of its own. If you haven’t visited the village before now (and there’s a good chance you haven’t) then these concerts could provide a great opportunity to experience the peculiar appeal of Poble Espanyol.
Dates, times and prices
Roger Hodgson—July 1st, 9.30pm, €36-48
Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking Orchestra—July 2nd, 9.30pm, €32-45
Rosana—July 3rd, 9.30pm, €24-35
George Benson—July 5th, 9.30pm, €36-48
Amaral—July 10th, 9pm, €30-42
Rosario and guest Antonio Carmen—July 16th, 9.30pm, €30-42
Jeff Beck—July 22nd, 9.30pm, €36-48
Calle 13 & Orishas—July 24th, 9pm, €29-36