Protests in Malta’s capital steadily became the status quo over the Christmas holidays, but for the first protest of 2020, Valletta also played host to some of the biggest names in the local alternative scene. And boy did they not disappoint.
Following a national protest that once again took to the streets of Valletta from in front of Parliament, the crowd eventually walked to the square in front of the Law Courts for a number of speeches and the aptly-named Kunċert Kontra Korruzzjoni.
First up were the “gods of the Maltese alternative music scene”, Beangrowers.
It had to be a great performance after being introduced like that… but you can count on Malta’s premier alternative trio to always bring it when they need to.
Kicking off the concert, Alison, Ian and Oliver started bringing the crowds closer to the stage as speeches turned to choruses from three of their most popular tracks.
Highlight: A poignant rendition of Love, You Can Never Give Up that made infinitely more sense than usual in the current circumstances.
Beangrowers kick off anti-corruption concert in Valletta.Brikkuni, Alexandra Alden, Lapes, and Sam Christie will also take to the stage
Posted by Lovin Malta on Sunday, January 5, 2020
Taking a sharp turn into provocative Maltese rap, next up was the one, the only, Lapes.
Spitting hot fire and his usual brand of unabashed attacks at anyone who ventures into his crosshair, the Maltese rapper went from a supersonic freestyle to a performance of a couple of his biggest tracks… including the notorious Karrotti, of course.
Highlight: Lapes shitting on both Labour and Nationalists as he nails his point home: “Malta, niefqu naħsbu b’dil-mentalita’ antika, li jew ma’ team jew ma’ ieħor bħall xi partita.”
Staying solidly in the hip hop category, female rapper-activist REA took to the stage to perform her politically-charged Roulette
I mean, it’s a song that’s literally named after 17 Black, so this track just had to make an appearance.
Alongside a beatboxing DJ Funky Monkey, REA didn’t hold back from using the Maltese language to take aim at Malta’s current political circus.
Highlight: Rea took the time to give some well-deserved kudos to the truly independent activists in the audience with her verse, “Permessi meħruġin wieħed wieħed bħall pastizzi, allaħares ma jkunux oppożizzjoni tal-Graffitti.”
Then, as the sun set, it was time for the kings of controversy themselves, Brikkuni.
Urging the crowd to get closer and wake the hell up, the larger-than-life frontman Mario Vella didn’t take long to charm the crowd.
“Please, ejja ħa nqumu waħda minn hemm,” Vella urged the audience, as the band switched to an opening courtesy of “ir-reġina tal-kanzunetta Maltija, li ħa toffrilkom evergreen mis-songbook soċjalist lokali”.
What followed? Well, the first of multiple highlights of the band’s performance: a rendition of the Labour Party’s beloved Tema ’79… with a very different and noisy conclusion that quickly turned into Brikkuni’s classic L-Eletti.
Posted by Trackage Scheme on Sunday, January 5, 2020
“Ma nistax nemmen il-paradoss… kont naqlagħha fuq wiċċi fi żmien il-leġislatura l-oħra meta kont intaqtaq kontra l-Gvern, u qed naglagħha issa li qed naqla kontra l-Gvern.”
Brikkuni then switched to a performance of another beloved classic, Nixtieq, but not before ending the three-song set with their latest banger.
Released amidst the ever-increasing unrest in the country towards the end of 2019, Brikkuni’s latest song Alla Illberani has everything you might expect from a song by the alternative-folk band… and then some.
And they definitely didn’t hold back from making the most of the track’s explosive outro either, with Mario Vella teaching the crowd the chanting words to close Brikkuni’s track
Highlight: The closing moments of Brikkuni’s last song, with the whole crowd chanting “Le, ma rridx ngħix Dubai, wisq anqas Singapore, neoliberali”, before erupting into shouts of “Liba!”, metres away from the Law Courts. One of those “you just had to be there” moments.
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Warning people that this would sound more like a non-family friendly toilet break after Brikkuni, Ċikku l-Poplu still managed to keep the crowd entertained with his witty and satirical songs.
“Maybe cover your children’s ears for this next one,” Alex Vella Gregory smiled, before barging in with his hilarious Xejn and two more similarly sharp tunes.
Highlights: Written 10 years ago during a PN government, the second track’s lyrics were sadly just as relevant in 2020: “Jekk taħxi ġo karrozza taqla’ ċitazzjoni, jekk taħxi pajjiż tirbaħ elezzjoni”.
Next up was none other than X Factor Malta judge Alex Alden.
Despite online attacks in the run-up to yesterday’s protest, Alden was not going to let online trolling and snide comments deter her from taking to the stage… which she did with her typical poised style.
With no extra fanfare and just a couple of lines before and after the set, the young singer-songwriter-turned-X-Factor-judge played two of her biggest tracks, Pilgrim and Wild Honey & Thyme.
“Thank you for all the love and support,” Alden opened. “I’m here to represent freedom of expression for all artists, everywhere.”
Highlights: After such a turbulent week of hate being thrown at Alden just for wanting to be there to support this non-partisan cause, just having her there to perform her serene acoustic tracks was an entire highlight in of itself and spoke louder than any rant ever could’ve.
Closing the night off on a distortion-drenched note reminiscent of an energetic gig straight from Malta’s alternative scene were power duo Beesqueeze.
This time joined by Sam Christie who took bass duties for the set, the band brought their signature hard-hitting sound to end the protest concert in punky style.
Opening with a noisy cover of a Johnny Cash cover before switching to their own original Mistake, Beesqueeze closed off the night with a highlight that fans of the band will instantly recognise as very on-brand.
Highlight: A blistering cover of the National Anthem… including an orange-coloured smoke bomb, because of course.
Featured Photo Inset by Mark Debono – biwster