Two years ago it was Marillion, last year Banarama and in 2008 it was Jamiroquai who took centre stage at Krakow’s Wianki celebrations. At this rate of improvement we can fully expect Radiohead to pitch up in 2009. It has to be a good sign for the city that the citizens of Krakow no longer have to put up with has-beens enjoying a last throw of the rock and roll dice come Midsummer’s night, and it was with genuine excitement that I fought my way through a tightly packed crowd to the riverfront where a patch of grass had my name on it.
As the band launched into its opening number, it was immediately apparent however that the sound engineer had been too conservative with the decibel levels (as had Jay Kay with his choice of hat), meaning that any chance of gig-like intensity, and excitement, was lost – except perhaps for those VIPs who had managed to blag tickets at the floating platform in front of the stage. Back on the Wawel side of the Wisla we tapped our feet, rather than went wild, to the British band?s uniquely palatable brand of pop, enjoying at least the festival atmosphere of 100,000 party-goers congregated under a darkening summer’s sky. With impressive foresight I had remembered to drink vodka rather than beer, therefore sidestepping the usual quandary of sitting through the concert in discomfort or stepping on a thousand toes in a struggle to the nearest bush.
After testing some new material on us, Jamiroquai unleashed familiar hits such as “Space Cowboy,” “Travelling Without Moving” and “Cosmic Girl,” the latter being a personal fave. “Like some baby Barbarella, with the stars as her umbrella, she asked me if I’d like to magnetise. Do I have to go star-trekking, ‘cos it’s you I should be checking, so she laser beamed me with her cosmic eyes.” Witty and nonsensical, these are pop sensibilities at their very best. Night had fallen by now and the concert was illuminated by a fantastic digital light show playing around the stage?s circumference.
The best moments of the night were saved for the encore, when the hatted one launched into “Little L” (a satirical lyrical examination of his relationship with Denise Van Outen), before the distinctive bass line of “Deeper Underground” brought any remaining slouchers to their feet for a spot of dancing. It was 10/10 for Jamiroquai, and “must try harder” for the sound engineers.
Of course the crowd weren’t going home without their fireworks, and as exploding gems and golden rain splashed from the heavens onto the shimmering surface of the Wisla, there was a perfect opportunity to practice our Michael Flatley impressions to the accompanying Riverdance soundtrack. A suitably pagan end to proceedings.