It all began with Fawlty Towers, apparently. Manuel, the waiter, ‘e’s from Barcelona… How exactly that relates to a 30-strong big band from Jönköping, Sweden, I have no idea, but that’s what they called themselves. I’m from Barcelona.
They have to be the geekiest-looking group of people I have ever seen, with their 70’s-80’s wardrobe, crazily cool hairdos and glasses so big Kim Jong-Il would have spec-envy. The lead singer and writer of most of the songs, Emmanuel, is a glorious ginger, stylishly scruffy in a way that few could achieve without descending into homelessness.
The music, on their first album at least, is big silly bouncy pop, it’s happy, daft and nostalgic. Yes, all that at the same time.
They are also responsible for the best concert I have ever been to. They were supported by Finno-French duo The Do (you do know a few of their songs, you just don’t know you do…) and the lovely SoKo, so things were already off to a good start by the time the 28 members of I’m from Barcelona’s tour formation trooped onto the stage. And started throwing giant balloons into the crowd.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band interact with their audience in quite the same way, it was like a big kids party, we were all singing along and getting quite giddy, jumping about, bouncing balloons at each other, throwing confetti and just generally having a good time. Usually a concert is all about *us* watching *them*, but in this case, we were all interacting with each other as well. I don’t think I have ever had that much exercise, neither before nor since. I felt like I was 15, I didn’t even feel my poor aged almost-30 joints creaking in protest as I hopped and jumped. Well, not until the next day, of course, but what the hell, it was worth it!
The new album, “Who killed Harry Houdini” is a lot less big and silly and daft, and quite a bit more nostalgic, almost melancholic. It’s still good, but it doesn’t quite give me the same kick as the bouncy “We’re from Barcelona”…