Basque rockers banned from playing Madrid

Madrid's city hall stands accused of gagging free speech after cancelling a concert by Basque thrash rockers Soziedad Alkoholika on grounds that they could "incite public disorder".

Basque rockers banned from playing Madrid
Photo: Soziedad Alkoholika Facebook

The veteran rockers, who have been together for over 25 years, have been banned from playing in Madrid by the city’s council, acting on recommendations by police.  

In a statement, the council said it had chosen to ban the concert because of the "threat of public disorder".

The Basque rock group, which has left wing anarchist sympathies, was due to play on Saturday, March 14th in the Palacio de Vistalegre arena.

The move has provoked outrage from the band and its fans.

"They have censured us again less than a week before the concert," said the band, in a statement released on their Facebook page.

"We know that sectors of the extreme right, afraid of cultural diversity and ideological freedom, were pushing for the cancellation of our concert. It is nothing new, and although sensible people no longer give them coverage, unfortunately the Madrid authorities still give credit to these people," the band added.

Police said they were complying with the Law of Performance, under which authorities can ban concerts which they deem could disturb public order or "endanger people and property".

Madrid’s city council said there were "justified reasons" to ban the concert, pointing to a report by Madrid’s police, which mentions three previous cancellations, in 2008 and 2009, due to the risk of public disorder.

One cancellation was to protect the band themselves after they received threats from neo-Nazi groups, reported Spanish daily, El País.

The police report also points to a lawsuit filed against the band in 2002 by the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) accusing them of having "excessively hurtful lyrics".

The lawsuit was subsequently thrown out, but over the years the band have been plagued by accusations of being sympathetic towards Basque terrorist group Eta, mainly from the AVT and far-right groups.

The rock group lamented on their Facebook page that Madrid’s city council would rather take false accusations into account than respect that the group had been completely cleared nine years ago. 

“For 13 years now we have been relentlessly accused and chased without mercy. All that time we have said clearly that we are against any kind of violence as a way to resolve conflict. Nine years have passed since we were tried in court and absolved of any crime,” the group said in their Facebook statement.

Fans have taken to Twitter to express their anger at the so-called "censuring of free speech".


The branch of left-wing protest party Podemos, based in the town of Rivas, tweeted "more nonsense from the Madrid government. They have banned Soziedad Alkoholika for praising terrorism". 

Mari Jose, writing on Twitter, said "That Soziedad Alkoholika have gone five years without playing Madrid is a bloody shame. They’re killing culture. #STOPCENSORSHIP".



Barcelona to hold Covid trial concert with 5,000 people as big festivals get cancelled

Barcelona’s two main music festivals - Primavera Sound and Sonar - may have just been cancelled, but organisers will be holding a trial concert with an audience on Saturday instead, with masks and negative PCR tests required from concertgoers.

Barcelona to hold Covid trial concert with 5,000 people as big festivals get cancelled

The concert will be held on Saturday, March 27th at the Palau Sant Jordi and feature, Spanish indie pop band, Lovers of Lesbian.

The band will play to 5,000 fans and no social distancing will be necessary. Attendees must, however, present a negative Covid test and wear a high-protection FFP2 face mask.

Tests will be carried out on the same day in some of the city’s biggest clubs, Luz de Gas, Sala Apolo and Razzmatazz.

The trial concert will be monitored by scientists from the Germans Trias I Pujol Hospital.

Organisers have said they will also guarantee air quality inside the venue at 350 particles per million CO2, meaning that it will be similar to the air quality outside.

“We have started a comeback,” one of the event organisers, Jordi Herreruela said in his briefing to parliament about the concert.

Both of Barcelona’s biggest music festivals – Primavera Sound (usually held at the end of May) and Sonar (usually held mid-June) have been cancelled for a second year, due to the Covid-19 situation. 

The trial however, seeks to prove that it is possible to organise concerts safely despite the pandemic. All the participants have agreed to follow the safety rules to help get back to some sense of normality.

In December 2020, Barcelona’s Sala Apolo club also held a trial concert with 500 people and no social distancing. Attendees also had to provide negative antigen and PCR tests in advance. The concert was deemed a success as no one contracted Covid-19 during the event.