Switzerland's biggest pop music festival, Paleo, has got underway in Nyon and, as ever, there is an eclectic mix on offer, ranging from mainstream pop to world music, from techno to the French chanson tradition. Tuesday's main acts include Pulp and Texas.This content was published on July 24, 2001 - 18:50
"We like to mix the musical styles. We want people to be open-minded and make discoveries all week long," said Paleo spokesman Vincent Sager.
The publicity for Paleo boasts: "six days, five stages, 100 shows". The huge cultural event - likened to a party - is expected to attract almost 200,000 spectators,
Paleo has come a long way since it began as a local folk festival in 1975.
Those intending to descend on Nyon have been snapping up tickets faster than ever, perhaps in the knowledge that fewer tickets have been made available. Last year's event, which marked Paleo's 25th anniversary, pushed the festival to its limits, and the organisers have decided that enjoyment, quality and safety are more important than sheer size.
The 32,000 tickets available for Sunday's show, featuring Manu Chao, sold out a month ago. All ticket sales via the festival's internet site were stopped last Thursday.
"We've never sold so many tickets so quickly," Sager told swissinfo.
French stars and British bands
Manu Chao, the former singer with French band Mano Negra, is probably the biggest draw at this year's festival, given the immense popularity of his latest album, "Próxima Estación: Esperanza", with its melting pot of styles and languages.
There are several other attractions from France such as St Germain, Pascal Obispo, Vanessa Paradis, Claude Nougaro and De Palmas. But the singer who has prompted perhaps the greatest anticipation is the legendary Henri Salvador, the 84-year-old master of the jazz-tinged chanson.
English-language rock and pop are well represented, not least with British bands Texas and Pulp, who both play the first night. To those can be added popular acts like Placebo, Ash and Ben Harper, who headline on Thursday.
The sizeable Swiss contingent is led by the edgy electronic rock of the veterans, The Young Gods. But other local talent includes two acclaimed Lausanne bands, Chewy and Zorg, an all-girl four-piece from Zurich, Rosebud, and the melodic rock of Geneva's Demilliac.
Paleo is also an important showcase for world music. Alongside the well-known North African Raï of Rachid Taha, there are artists from India, Cuba, Brazil, Congo and the republic of Tuva, in Russian Central Asia. One of the highlights will be a three-hour celebration of the music of the gypsies, with bands from India, Spain and Romania.
Creating a world village
Paleo is not just about seeing the stars. It is also a question of opening up to new musical experiences: "People who come along to listen to Manu Chao will also discover Susana Baca, who is a great Peruvian singer," says Sager.
"Our purpose is that people will come to Paleo and discover new things," he told swissinfo.
One of the reasons Paleo has become Switzerland's biggest summer music festival is the atmosphere. As Sager says, the aim is to "create a world village".
One of the factors which adds to that is the vast camp site alongside the festival ground. This has become as much a part of the festival as the music.
But this year, only those people possessing valid tickets will be allowed in. This measure has been taken reluctantly to reduce the amount of crime, violence and drug-use in the tent city.
"These crimes put the spirit of Paleo in peril more than limiting access to festival-goers," says Sager. "Mentalities are not the same as they were ten years ago."
Accompanying the festival, there is a live internet site, which offers concert footage and interviews with the stars.
by Roy Probert
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