Kenwood House hosts many a big name through the summer months in their notorious Picnic concerts, acts which although I’d gladly watch, wouldn’t draw me to actually buy a ticket. But when I saw the Gypsy Kings concert advertised on a London Underground poster the day before the actual event, there was no way in the world I’d miss this.
The Gypsy Kings have always played in the soundtrack of my life, as I’m sure many other lives who have been lucky enough to visit the Mediterranean. Driving through arid mountain roads with the smell of pines perforating salted air, their gravelly voiced songs both allegrous and lamenting, played repeatedly on the stereo of my father’s car. Funny, because this also seems to be a memory for other friends, one of whom, (my oldest and closest friend), joined me for the evening of mass hysteria where hundreds of fans sang along to their most well know tracks Bamboleo and Volare late into a Friday night in breezy north London.
Laying out a picnic feast in the picnic area, we were amongst hundreds of people excitedly chattering as we awaited the legendary group. The day promised drizzle, but as the afternoon went on rain held off. Thundery looking clouds continued to hang over North London as hoards of fans kept coming. Family groups, middle-aged folk and younger revellers filled the field and beyond the venue’s barriers. then suddenly, after a lively warm up act by Manos Del Dio, there they were, the Gypsy Kings! And better still, the sun appeared as if gifted by the arrival of the Mediterranean legends.
Much like any live music event, especially with gypsy style music, la duende (the feeling you get from music which makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle) was incredibly apparent in the event’s diverse crowd. The Gypsy Kings are universally appreciated, their music fills the listener with allegria or solitude, regardless of language or age barriers. I was actually quite glad they didn’t sing Trista Pena, having been emotionally charged since booking the tickets, if that sorrowful song had played there may have been serious floodgates!
It didn’t matter that we were far from the stage, the fact was we were really in their presence and incredibly blessed to see them on perhaps their last UK gig. Unusually I took only a few photos, but then when you’re genuinely having fun there is no time to stop and try to capture it. Photos would not have done justice to the atmosphere in any case. As for our blanket and rations, they were abandoned as we got carried away towards the stage eager to become closer to the band. Dancing like a maniac in wellies isn’t as difficult as anticipated.
THE Gypsy Kings in London. A once in a life-time opportunity, experienced with a close friend, so glad not to have missed it.