The Yahoo! On the Road tour came to Madrid for a night of love, sex and music in all their many flavors for the most glamorous show of the tour yet.
Yahoo!'s big purple bus rolled its way over to La Riviera, one of the oldest and biggest nightclubs in Madrid- a neon whirl with multiple floors encircling the building and a throng of excellently gaudy faux palm trees bursting out of the floor behind the central bar which forms the heart of the place. You couldn't have asked for a more appropriate setting for a show from our headline act, the fabulous Spanish glam pop group Fangoria.
Opening the night was English electro-popstress Elizabeth Morphew, better known as Queen of Hearts, who held court over the enthusiastic crowd with a breathlessly paced synth set. The singer has been burning up the blogs over the last two years with the release of EPs The Arrival, Warrior and Neon/Tears In the Rain alongside a string of successful singles and remixes.
Morphew took to the stage with an ice cool stride, a large golden cross hanging from her ear glinting in the flashing lights before diving through a performance studded with digital gems. You're immediately struck by the dynamic vocal range she is able to rush through in a single song, moving at warp speed from diva lows to swirling highs, as could be heard in her sneak preview of next single 'Secret.' It's a stormer of a number with velvet low verses built on a war drum dance beat that collapses in on itself for choruses laced with liquid high falsettos.
A nod also must be given to the fantastic production put into the beats she floats atop of. There's 'Angel' with its sub-bass drums that would give an elephant a heart attack shot through with grinding organs. Or crowd pleaser 'Like A Drug's digital horse hoof stampede of a chorus- which Elizabeth got the whole of La Riviera clapping along with as can be seen in the video below:
On a night with bands who have built themselves on spectacle and huge showmanship Morphew daringly took to the stage starkly solo (well, with her manager and DJ Mark Pattison on deck behind her but by and large he lets the Queen rule proceedings) yet she still kept the audience absolutely captivated- and it's not just the music doing the trick. A fabulous aspect of her performance are the frequent moments when the crown of the Queen drops and Elizabeth herself flashes through. They appear in small ways- a wink to the crowd, a small wave to a fan up front, or when she can't help but giggle to herself at the end of a number. It's absolutely charming, and when combined with the whip crack ice and sex of the music at the other end of the spectrum it's no wonder she calls herself Queen of Hearts.
If Queen of Hearts camped down at the cross roads of love and sex, Nancys Rubias have taken a high speed roar down the latter path and never looked back. The group have a look and sound that's like someone took the best of 1950s pinup culture and dropped it into an industrial sized blender before lacing the mixture with club beats and aphrodisiacs. Lead singer Mario Vaquero looks and moves a bit like an anorexic Alice Cooper crossed with a spider on crack. He whirls and writhes across the stage on a pair of black stilettos like a banshee, routinely pulling and caressing at every part of his clothing and body while leaping out onto speaker stacks in front of the stage.
They're a band who have put performance and spectacle at the top of their agenda, literally. The band actually play along to pre-recorded renditions of their songs but this allows them to pull off onstage acrobatics and visual tricks that wouldn't be possible otherwise such as the fantastic image of band member Nancy O (Marta Vaquerizo) busting moves on a raised platform smashing a triangle along to heavy drum beats. The songs themselves are a mishmash of thick punk guitar and wailing synths topped off by the sneering vocals of Mario, as can be heard in the high octane rush of 'Peluquitas.'
Nancys Rubias also have several direct connections to headliner group Fangoria- another band known for their flaunting of sexuality and over the top stage shows. Not only does Fangoria band member Nacho Canut write most of the Nancys' songs (Fangoria actually discovered the group at one of their earliest performances) but Mario is married to Fangoria lead singer Alaska. The pair are famous gay culture icons in Spain and their relationship has become the subject of an MTV España reality show titled Alaska y Mario. The show has gone on to become the channels biggest success story and is showing no signs of stopping with more viewers being gained every episode.
The love headliners Fangoria engender from their audience is phenomenal. Before the band are even onstage the expectation and want for the group is physically palpable. A premature jet from a smoke machine brings screams from the crowd even though there are still roadies running about the stage. When the band finally do arrive it's to the strains of Sigue Sigue Sputnik's hit 'Love Missle F1-11' and a volcanic eruption of adoration from the crowd. The band's two key members, keyboardist/xylophonist Nacho Canut and lead singer Alaska, are a striking double act. Nacho cuts a reserved but dapper figure, a tall pale gentleman with close shaved hair and a sharp all black suit (though he does allow the flash of some black sequins to spiral down the back of the jacket). Similarly Alaska wears a black leather and sequined dress (and later a catsuit) painted onto her diminutive frame topped off by a mass of black hair that flows and flies in all directions, a slash of ruby red lipstick lighting up her Elvira-esque complexion.
The group thunder through an hour long set of disco based glam pop, Nacho pounding out shudderingly huge bass synth rhythms on his keys before turning to his side and gently layering xylophone melodies on top which bleed in and out of the haze. Alaska struts and strikes poses with the best of them, a more elegant version of her husband's manic antics earlier in the evening. She's accompanied by a quartet of phenomenal dancers clad in a variety of outfits- from black leather corsets to golden lace- who free wheel across the stage in a balletic flurry of sex and slides. They even are given an entire song to themselves to dance wearing massive black hooded capes which swirl out over the audience like a cult of sexy mad monks.
As the band's performance goes on one thing becomes very clear: all the people in the audience know every last word to any song the group could choose to play. The crowd belt out with a passion and volume that's humbling- it literally feels as if all the voices of Madrid are calling out at once. It happens from the first note of the show but reaches a new fervor when final song 'A Quién Le Importa' begins.
The track is famously an anthem amongst Spain's gay population due to its lyrical touchstone of living your life how you feel it should be lived and not listening to the hate and criticism of others. Its chorus of 'Who cares what I do? Who cares what I say? I am happy and I will continue to never change' echoed up from La Riviera and out across Madrid. The song brings out such a huge blast of passionate sound from the audience that Alaska herself is all but drowned out, yet you can't help feeling she prefers it this way. She seems to take the stance that this isn't her performance, it's all of ours. After all- her world is a stage that she walks with pride, so why shouldn't ours be too?