Bilbao Soul4Real 2018


25th Bilbao Soul4Real Weekender,

4-7 October, 2018

Bilbao, Spain

The Bilbao Soul4Real event reached its 25 year anniversary in October, an impressive figure which may have seemed unlikely when it was kicked off by around fifty enthusiastic Spaniards dancing to soul music a quarter of a century ago.   Since then, numbers have swelled to around six hundred or so, including nearly as many British as Spanish, with 'live' acts added for the last six years and it has to now be considered the most diverse  -  Porretta only features 'live' performances - and important annual gathering on the European continent.

The format is simple: about thirty D.J.'s play one hour sets on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - typically from about 4 in the afternoon until  1 or 2 a.m - across four different venues, all within easy walking distance of each otherIn addition, the 'live' acts play for a couple of hours in Kafe Antzokia on the Saturday evening, always augmented by a superb local band, thirteen-strong this time around.  The music, over the four days is incredibly varied from the deepest of deep soul, through ballads, dancers, hits (e.g. Tavares’ ‘Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel’ and lots of Aretha sides - everyone felt the loss) and misses (hundreds!) and is in no way at all a typical ‘Northern' concern.

Dan Penn - picture, top left - and The Masqueraders - picture, top right - were the performers this year and the sets (as always) are carefully tailored to what the audience would want to hear - no cover versions in Bilbao.  Penn's hour included ‘Keep On Talking’, ‘Dark End Of The Street’, ‘I'm Your Puppet’ and ‘Raining In Memphis’, interspersed with some intriguing stories of life in the studio back in the sixties.  Highlights from the ’Raders for me were ‘I'm Just An Average Guy’, ‘How Big Is Big’, ‘I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else’, ’This Heart Is Haunted’ and ‘That's The Same Thing’.  The only irritation in the entire night was the large group of people near the back of the hall who seemed much more interested in talking among themselves than actually listening to what was happening on the stage.  I simply have no idea why they bothered to turn up, particularly as  most of them apparently left before the D'J's started up after the show.

In many ways though, the real star of this long weekend is Bilbao itself, a superb destination for a visit at any time, thanks to a short flying time from England, a kind climate - not always the case apparently but certainly so for the last three events I have attended - world class food and drink (Martini Preparado a must!), marvellous buildings and a strangely deserted river that is a pleasure to walk along.  The organisation - by Alex Subinas and Aitor Lombide - is easily the best I have encountered for any such event and, when we also consider the incredible atmosphere generated by the friendliest crowd imaginable in the great Cotton Club  - loads of inebriated Brits shouting out “Bollocks” to ‘Last Night’ in Tony Rounce’s excellent Sunday night set was enormous fun  - the thought of not attending Bilbao 26 is unimaginable.

John Lias

Photos © John Lias, 2018

John Lias was one of the D.J.’s to play ay the Weekender.  This is his nicely varied playlist...



TED TAYLOR  -  Did She Mention My Name

BILLY BUTLER  -  Tomorrow Is Another Day

ROYALETTES  -  Only When You’re Lonely

BARBARA LEWIS  -  Stop That Girl

MAXINE BROWN  -  Don’t Leave Me

CANDI STATON  -  I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than A Young Man’s Fool)

BILLY CODAY  -  Get Your Lie Straight


LOVELITES  -  This Love Is Real

DYNAMICS  -  What Would I Do

FOUR MINTS  -  You’re My Desire

ORIGINALS  -  Lie #2

PRESIDENTS  -  Girl You Cheated On Me

WALTER HEATH  -  You Know You’re Wrong Don’t Ya Brother

SWISS MOVEMENT  -  The Grass Is Always Greener

WESTWING  -  Gave Your Love Gave All Your Love To Me

STEP BY STEP  -  Cool Days Are Out Of Style

DAVID OLIVER  -  Who Are You

INTRUDERS  -  Friends No More

CLYDE McPHATTER  -  Anyone Can Tell

DYNAMICS  -  The Ice Cream Song