Julio Martí, a 64-year-old from Valencia, has almost four decades of experience as a concert organizer, especially in the most exquisite and sybarite field of international jazz, but this weekend something happened that his memory could not remember: he burst into tears like a child in the middle of a performance. It was not just the artist’s merit, in this case the unstoppable Argentine Nathy Peluso, but a direct consequence of the circumstances. After a year of suspension and 15 months of absolute uncertainty and ungovernable script changes, the Botanical Nights, the festival of which he has been co-director since its first installment, finally regained their pulse in the westernmost end of the University City. Relive and regain the freshness of the forest: as if not to get excited.
For now, there are only five editions that this cycle has completed since 2016, plus another two (those of 2014 and 2015) in which the festival had already started in an embryonic way under the unfortunate Anglophone name of MadGarden. But this event in the open air, with the technical and sonorous display of great occasions and often foreign and exclusive artists, had already established itself by fire in the agendas of live music lovers from the capital. Recovering some of all this seemed implausible at the beginning of the year, but vaccination and perseverance have finally paid off, a more than adequate expression in the territory of botany. Until July 31, 44 almost consecutive concerts are coming, with very few free nights on the calendar.
The secret? This time overwhelming majority of national groups, concerts spread over various dates (Love of Lesbian will present their new LP, VEHN, over four consecutive evenings), very tight caches, a crazy desire of the fans to return to the night events and the determination of the institutions to row in the same direction. Starting with the Complutense University itself, which has expanded the allocation of space in the gardens from 10,000 to 19,000 square meters, to avoid crowds and multiply the restaurant and recreation areas. “This is the closest thing to a festivities that we are going to live this year ”, Mariana and Julián summed up this Monday, lounging on the lawn with a beer, in the hippest area of the venue.
The rigors of the pandemic have made us, despite fatigue, somewhat more patient. Just before the French Woodkid appears on stage, in his absolute debut before the Spanish public, a young, affable and loquacious girl lists the imperatives of this edition: no one can get up, eat or drink in their seats; Umbrellas are not even allowed to be opened in the event of a storm, an unlikely hypothesis … until it happens (and those who attended long-awaited concerts like those in Chicago or Alan Parsons years ago know what we mean). The announcements from the organization’s smiling spokesperson are not synonymous with comforts, but they are greeted with diplomacy and even with a courtesy applause upon completion. The girl who has known how to sweeten the message is called Laura Martí, she is the head of ushers and locutions and, yes, she is the daughter of the aforementioned Julio Martí.
The other person in charge in the cockpit of this adventure responds to the name of Ramón Martín, he was born in Madrid 62 years ago and also has extensive experience in the union. Three decades ago, at the head of the Talent company, he already served as a representative of Los Ronaldos, Tam Tam Go !, 21 Japonesas or La Frontera, among other luminaries of that pop with which we joined the nineties. Now he does not deposit as much energy in the artistic facet as in logistics, which is no small thing. 108 employees swarm the facilities every day, which take almost a month to get up to avoid damaging the vegetation. Martín, who until recently did not know a word of botany, has now become in love with the aroma of linden trees. “From this I end up learning the names of all the trees. After all, they have become my daily companions, ”he smiles.
Meanwhile, Yoanne Lemoine, the singer, songwriter and producer who works under the artistic pseudonym Woodkid, has opened with Iron Y Pale yellow the first Spanish appearance in his exact decade of musical activity. His is electronic pop with string arrangements and chamber music vocation, a formula sometimes more conducive to enthusiasm and other times, to effusiveness. “We are experiencing a frustrating and exciting situation at the same time. I want you to show me your best body movements from the chair ”, he instructs the nearly 1,200 spectators who have come to meet him. At 22.47 he interprets I love you, outrageous ode of love to that boy who does not pay you a bloody case, and there are dozens who jump like springs from their seats. “Nerd. This time we stay in our places, but don’t let anyone stop us from singing ”, the one from Lyon instructs them.
Openly gay Woodkid gracefully excuses himself from his somewhat limited Spanish: “Excuse me, my English teacher was more handsome and paid more attention to him.” Smiles are widespread, although now they can only be sensed. They come from an eclectic and heterogeneous public, rejuvenated compared to previous deliveries and very predisposed to re-enter the ranks of melomania: of the almost 80,000 tickets that have been put on sale for the entire event, more than 63,000 already have an owner. Today the raincoat was not needed, although the flashes of a distant storm illuminate the sky to the east. The epic is not going to be necessary every day: Martí and Martín return home tonight without ever shedding a tear, although with the intense aroma of linden trees filling their lungs as they head down Complutense Avenue.
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