Extreme weather hits Benicassim Festival28 July 2009
SPAIN: Despite the difficulties, organisers insisted that this year’s event had been "the biggest and best yet", writes David Davies. In what has been a highly eventful month for major European live music events, sets on the Friday night of Benicassim were delayed, interrupted and, in one case, cancelled due to high winds.
Most prominently, Kings of Leon called off their set shortly before they were due to take to the stage because of the prevailing wind. Touring commitments in Switzerland meant that the performance could not be rescheduled.
However, with attendance of 50,000-plus per day, organisers were keen to emphasise the otherwise successful nature of this year’s event, which saw headline sets from the likes of Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Elbow and the Killers.
Promoter Vince Power also moved to scupper one particular rumour that subsequently did the rounds of the global newswires. "There was never any fire on the festival site at any time," he said in a statement issued on June 22. "The fire reported was on wasteland across a motorway and the high winds caused minimum disruption, which was all solved by the morning after the storm. At no time was the safety of any of our festival-goers compromised, nor was the festival shut down at any time. Only a fraction of people camping had to be moved overnight to a community centre for shelter."
Indeed, in comparison to some other recent European festival events, Benicassim 2009 was a veritable walk in the park. A 22-year-old Brit died after a falling from a fortress wall at Serbia’s EXIT Festial, while it was widely reported that one fan died and many others were injured when a tent fell at Slovakia’s Pohoda Festival.
Tragedy also beset preparations for a recent Madonna concert at Marseilles’ Velodrome, when a section of stage roof collapsed on to technicians. 53-year-old French worker Charles Criscenzo was killed outright, while 23-year-old Brit Charles Prow died later in hospital. The concert was cancelled.
In a statement issued by concert promoter Live Nation, Madonna – who subsequently visited Criscenzo’s home and saw three other injured workers in hospital – commented that she was "devastated" by the events. "My prayers go out to those who were injured and their families, along with my deepest sympathy to all those affected by this heartbreaking news," she said.
On July 19, it emerged that French prosecutors had opened an investigation for manslaughter and involuntary injuries in a work-related accident.
Image Credit (Benicassim): Fibers Escenario Verde/_scar L. Tejeda
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