This content was published on July 01, 2022 – 10:51
The Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) lifts the curtain on its 56th edition on Friday. After two years heckled by the pandemic, the event welcomes until July 16 nearly 70 artists on its two paid stages, as well as 450 concerts and free activities.
It will be the Norwegian synthetic pop trio a-ha, a cult group of the 80s, who will open the fire on Friday evening in the Stravinsky auditorium and Sophie Hunger at the Lab. For the sequel, Nick Cave, Björk, Diana Ross, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, The Smile, Woodkid, Jacques Dutronc and many others will follow one another on the MJF stages, in an edition that makes his “almost return to normal”.
Not a copy of 2019
Questioned by Keystone-ATS, Mathieu Jaton feels very strongly the excitement of the festival for which “hundreds of people are busy” and says he is “very happy” with its opening. It will not be a “copy/paste” of 2019 for several reasons, he observes. “Particularly because the Covid is still present”.
“It remains a threat today, especially on artist cancellations,” he notes, citing the examples of Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Metallica most recently. “The danger that an artist cannot go on stage has always existed, but it is increased tenfold by this new wave of Covid which is coming. We have to deal with it and adapt”.
“For the moment, knock on wood, we are going to take things day by day (…) and work with the same agility that we had for two years”, he adds, referring to the cancellation of the festival in 2020 and its mini-version in 2021.
With the return of all major events and the postponements to 2020 and 2021, there is an oversupply in Switzerland and Europe. “We feel that we are not in the same mood as before”, underlines the boss of the festival. “There is the war in Ukraine, the crisis, inflation and many other things that impact a big event like Montreux”.
The public, however, is eager to return. This is confirmed in the box office: “Sales are going extremely well, better than they have been in previous years. In particular at Stravinsky where we display eight, even ten evenings sold out”, he explains. .
As for the new features for 2022, Mathieu Jaton talks about the transformation of the free offer with the setting up of the Lake House, the main meeting place for non-paying stages, located in the Petit Palais. This culture and art incubator house has eight rooms, including a library, a cinema and a gallery. But also The Memphis, a club devoted to the new generation of jazz, essentially Anglo-Saxon, recalled Mr. Jaton.
“There is really a movement of the festival towards this place, which is also an anticipation of the works planned at the Convention Center in 2024-2025”, he explains.
In total, the festival offers eleven free stages, including the new Ipanema, an “open-air electro nightclub”, just opposite the 2m2c. It will welcome emerging international DJs practically with their feet in the water.
Asked about the arrival of Johnny Depp who is making headlines and who will accompany Jeff Beck on July 15, Mathieu Jaton notes that Montreux “has already had gigantic stars, whether Prince or Stevie Wonder: we know how fans are managed”, comments he.
Still at the program level, the MJF also reported a last-minute change this week. Alan Parsons who has to undergo back surgery had to cancel his concert. It will be replaced by Magma and its progressive rock on July 11.
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