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  • Writer's pictureDanny C

Heavenly, Galileo Galilei, Madrid 27-01-24

Si! Si! Si! Si! Is the Heavenly Option

I had the good fortune to be in Madrid with Mrs Gig-Antics at the same time as 90s Indie legends Heavenly, who were playing a sold-out show at the amazing Galileo Galilei venue as part of the Madrid Popfest series of shows. We had even better luck earlier in the week to get hold of two tickets for this, but what we weren't prepared for was how great all three bands were going to be with Neleonard and Would-Be Goods playing top class sets as support.

I also had the good luck to have a less mis-adventurous trip than my last gig visit to Madrid, watching Fields of the Nephilim in 2018, with Slash Vaseline and Cap’n Craig my old band and flatmates, which involving tripping into a hole in the street, Peruvian egg-white cocktails, a suspected fractured arm, Leche du Pantera ("Panthers Milk") poured from a stalactite on the bars ceiling, a rogue Midnight Black eyeliner. And not necessarily in that order. So, in a more civilised setting I was able to enjoy this one all the more.

As we arrived, we could hear the Would-Be Goods had started although I was more taken by the venue - one of the most chilled out I’ve ever been to. A 500-capacity old theatre that has two parts; a reasonable standing section in front of the stage and then a very civilised raised cabaret-style seating area in front of the bar where we parked ourselves for most of the evening. I'll admit I've not heard Would-Be Goods before but since this show I think they'll feature quite heavily on my Spotify most played of 2024 end of year summary. Not a dis-similar sound to Heavenly themselves, which shouldn't be a surprise as along with singer Jessica Griffin, the headliners own Peter Momtchiloff was on stage from the start for the first few songs but that didn’t last long as a duo. Bass and drums soon followed courtesy of Heavenly’s line up as the joined them on stage for more songs and inevitably Amelia Fletcher and Cathy Rogers completed the guest line up to peak this warmup act as an early surprise for the crowd with the full band now on. By the time this 45-minute set finished the evening already had a relaxing feel of a get-together of old friends and set things up nicely for the next act.

Neoleonard wow! They’re a six-piece band based in Barcelona and took to the stage with shades of Belle & Sebastian with similar kind of set up of dual guitars, male and female singers, keyboards and the occasional switch of instruments between members for different songs. Their sound is also a little similar but as all lyrics are in Spanish that’s where I’d stop the comparison as I had no idea what they were singing about! Upbeat and uplifting tunes all the way though and I have to single out the keyboard player (Eloy Bernal I think?) for his enthusiasm and unorthodox moves while playing. I’ve only ever seen this topped by the lead singer of Future Islands Samuel T Herring, but that said I think I’ve found my new favourite musician in Eloy, who even swapped for guitar on the final track. Again, I didn’t know anything about the band before the gig but I now realise by the end of their set I’d watched most of it with a smile on my face as they are so enjoyable, its impossible not to – if you ever get a chance to see them, don’t pass on that.

The main event, Heavenly’s set was absolutely perfect. Their in-between songs chat was excellent, and the crowd really appreciated Cathey Rogers efforts with the local lingo. With each song they lifted the atmosphere time and time again and I think Hearts And Crosses sung in Spanish sounded even better than in English. When they got into Shallow, even most of the seated crowd was on its feet too and the place was bouncing. I lasted about five or six songs before abandoning Mrs Gig-Antics at our table to head down to a packed standing section and managed to squeeze in beside a London lad we’d been chatting to earlier who’d come over especially for the gig. It was sardines down the front with little room to move until someone figured out (or decided) that by singing lyrics word perfect at the top of their voice while pushing through earned them the a spot further in. Fair play! Heavenly brought the house down towards the end with Attagirl, and again with Trophy Girlfriend, and even more with their finale P.U.N.K. Girl. The encore topped evertything, with a guest appearance of Rafa as ‘Calvin’ (Johnson) on stage to join the band for C Is The Heavenly Option. I was back in my seat by then and managed to get a video of the whole song – I don’t think I’ve seen anyone happier than Rafa was at that point (whats Spanish for ‘Life Complete’).

This was one of the best all round gigs I’ve seen in a long time, great sets, great crowd, fantastic support bands, incredible venue and so far from a standard fayre set of songs as I’ll ever see. There was so much to the evening that this blog can’t do it justice. To top it off we even bumped into Amelia and Matthew as we were leaving and got “you know we’re playing Glasgow yeah?” when they heard we came from Edinburgh for this. Yes I know, and yes I’ll see them again there!

I was estoy en la luna by the end of this show. Cantas muy bien Heavenly, gracias!

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Fantastic! 🤩

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