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Be Prog! My Friend - live review

Live Review

Venue: Barcelona Poble Espanyol

Established names and homegrown bands collectively deliver a Be Prog! My Friend, a festival that punches above its weight

If you’re going to throw a two-day prog festival, this is how to do it. Poble Espanyol is an eye-catching and convincing facsimile of a medieval market square on one of the hillsides overlooking Barcelona. Insulated from the turbulence of modern life by stone-clad buildings and ornate archways, it exists in a bubble of its own creation – not unlike prog itself. Only the food shops that dot the square’s perimeter shatter the illusion of 16th-century bliss. Well, that and the hulking stage that’s been set up in the middle of it all.

Be Prog! My Friend – a clunky name, but a heartfelt one – is precisely the sort of festival you’ll never get on this side of the English channel. Open air squares are the perfect environment when you’re dealing with the reliably scorching Spanish sun, but the British weather is less predictable and ultimately less kind, and would likely deliver at least some rain before the end of the first keyboard solo.

More pertinently, you just don’t get the same sort of audience. The 2000-capacity crowd gathered here is a mix of the young and the old (skewed if anything towards the former), while the selection of T-shirts on display range from the heaviest of heavy metal (Kreator, Cannibal Corpse) to alternative rock giants (Radiohead), suggesting that Catalan music fans aren’t as snobbish towards this sometimes maligned off-shoot of the rock scene as some of their UK counterparts.

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