By Claire Spencer
There’s something rather magical about this smoking mountain rising out of a crystal clear Mediterranean Sea. It gives the impression of incongruity, a small piece of The UK somehow tacked onto the Southernmost tip of Iberia, a shrine from antiquity where the ancients paid tribute to their gods at the gateway to Atlantis and the Northern pillar of Hercules. This is where music lovers have come to pay tribute to their gods this weekend; those giants of pop and rock headed by the likes of Take That, Enrique Iglesias and the mighty Liam Gallagher.
This year, is a change of venue, and it all kicks off at The Europa Point Leisure Complex overlooking the Rif Mountains in Morocco on the other side of the straits. The shuttle buses from town move everyone about efficiently, looking like an unstoppable army of ants crawling round the Rock as seen from the air, and suddenly we’re there being checked in at the gate in time to see Sigala.
There’s music for everyone, with the big names on the main stage, and favourites from yesteryear like Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel imploring everyone to “come up and see him” on the Classic Stage.
Liam Gallagher, is definitely one of the days highlights, in his classic pose, hands behind his back singing into the mike like a headbutting cobra. It’s basically Oasis without sibling Noel, and the back catalogue is mercilessly raided. Enrique Iglesias follows Liam’s blistering performance with an equally professional set, and the crowd are ecstatic with his delivery.
There’s thunderstorms rocking the Rock come Sunday lunchtime, but nobody is phased as it would seem their collective enthusiasm and positivity have sent the rain clouds packing; by the afternoon the sun has got his hat on once again and the show is in full swing with Noddy Holder glittery top hats of the Slade fans glinting in the afternoon sunshine.
As yesterday, the food stalls are doing a roaring trade, there’s a long line of hungry people queuing for the chip wagon which is ceaselessly turning a huge mountain of potatoes into crispy homemade chips. The ubiquitous local ice cream van “Here’s Johnny” also has an equally long line of customers. There’s food for all tastes, even an all vegan van, who are flat out making delicious food to feed the thousands of hungry people.
The show is incredibly professional and well produced.
Seventies heartthrob David Essex is on the Classic Stage, looking older but sounding in fine voice and Rocking on much the same as he did back in 1973, with the crowd singing along word perfect. Those aficionados of 70s music stay put as 10cc follow David with their greatest hits, whilst some bail out early, myself included, to catch headliners Take That. They don’t disappoint; the show is incredibly professional and well-produced. If you can’t get to the front, no bother, the video screens bring it all on home like you were up there with the band. There’s a rising tide of people, a sea of waving arms and smiling faces; these guys have definitely hit the spot this evening with Gary Barlow in a strikingly smart checked suit. He says that this is the first time they’ve played Gibraltar and that they’ll definitely be back.
Some drift away after Take That, maybe they’re working tomorrow, but some stay to see the final act who are Killer Queen. As the name suggests, they’re a Queen tribute, but these guys certainly are The Champions and most definitely Rock You with everyone’s favourite Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody.
And then suddenly, it’s all over for another year. Where the time has gone is anybodies guess. Everyone heads off for the fleet of shuttle buses to take them home as the moon shines its silvery beams of light on Europa Point with the lights of Morocco twinkling like coloured stars across a short sea strait. You could almost imagine some Moorish music lovers gazing back at this mystic mountain to the North and wishing they were there with us too.
Claire has donated her fee for this article to a homeless charity in Derby.