Music Madness in Madrid

By Paul Rigg

Mad Cool is an indie, rock, and electronic festival that began in Madrid in 2016 and is now a top annual fixture in Spain for music lovers.  

Here Guitars Exchange takes a look at which top guitar bands to watch out for in the 12, 13 and 14 July 2018 edition, and why.

Few electric guitar lovers would pass up a chance to see Mike McCready possibly playing his 1959 Fender Stratocaster or perhaps one of his Les Pauls on the festival’s opening night. Pearl Jam, who have sold over 60 million records and were one of the forerunners of the grunge movement, have not released an album for a while but it is quite possible that they will set the whole festival on fire, as Neil Young did two years ago.


In support, Kevin Parker of the Australian neo-psychedelic band Tame Impala, is always worth seeing live if you love guitars played with lots of reverb and fuzz. Along with his wide range of pedals he is likely to be wielding a Rickenbacker; perhaps his 335 or 360.

Serge Pizzorno
of the British indie outfit Kasabian also favours a Rickenbacker, but his is a red 481. Look out also for his rare 1966 Fender Coronado II, which he often uses live, for example, on the hit single Underdog.

and Post Malone are also headlining on the opening night, but Guitars Exchange would highlight Mark Everett of The Eels as a possible stand out act, as the band have just released a new album, The Deconstruction, E may well climb onto the stage with his 56 Danelectro Pro or perhaps his Gibson L-00 tucked under his arm.  


The star acts of the following day are the Arctic Monkeys and Jack White. British band the Arctic Monkeys will no doubt be playing tunes from their sixth album, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, while Jack White is likely to be showcasing tracks from his latest album, Boarding House Reach. As White plays so many guitar models it is difficult to know which he will go for, but they may include a Gretsch or perhaps an EVH Wolfgang USA Stealth.


Massive Attack
and Snow Patrol are supporting but perhaps guitar fans will be focusing more on Franz Ferdinand and Alice in Chains. Franz Ferdinand will surely be playing the title track from their new album Always Ascending, whereas the chance to see the ‘Riff Lord’ Jerry Cantrell perhaps playing one of his signature G&L guitars on some of Alice in Chains classics, live, will have many drooling.  

The final night, Saturday 14 July, features Depeche Mode and Queens of the Stone Age. Songwriter and guitarist Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, fresh from being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, may well play his Gretsch white Falcon or
Gretsch Double Anniversary on tracks like Personal Jesus, Never Let Me Down Again or A Question of Time. American Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age will be another treat; he could be playing any one of the dozens of six-strings that he owns, although it is well known that the Fender Telecaster is one of his favourites besides his Maton Signature.

Supporting Depeche Mode and Queens of the Stone Age are Nine Inch Nails, Dua Lupa, Underworld and Jack Johnson. Apart from NIN, who are promoting their album Bad Witch (out 22 June), perhaps of most interest here to guitar fans is Jack Johnson who often plays a Cole Clark acoustic, but is likely to also reach for his Gibson ES-335 VOS custom or his Fender 1974 Telecaster during his set.     


Lower down the listings, but two bands to watch out for in the future, are Wolf Alice and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Accomplished guitarists Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie of Wolf Alice helped rock the house when they played in Madrid at the start of this year, while BRMC have recently released their album Wrong Creatures. The American lead guitarist of the band, Peter Hayes, can be relied upon to offer up a dirty mix of psychedelic and blues rock, and at the July festival is likely to have one of his many Gibsons slung over his shoulder.      

Taken together, Mad Cool 2018 is all set to be a feast for guitar lovers and, in fact, for anyone who enjoys seeing great bands play live.    

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