What does a dream day in Montreux look like? We asked this question to the journalists who report on the concerts and backstage every summer! Find their stories, real or fantasized, from July 3rd to 18th on our website.
“Cheers!”, says Grace Jones, raising her flute and showing her bleached teeth. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon and the diva has just emerged from her queen size bed at the Montreux Palace. It’s common knowledge that Grace needs very little to live on: “Champagne, oysters and – sex.” She rolls her big eyes. As she does after the casual interview, when she performs once more in the Stravinski at around two o’clock in the morning and massages my belly with her dub bass.
Beguilingly, she sings of the “Devil in my Life” in her “Vie en rose”. An old flame who knows this devil only too well smiles as he doffs his hat: Leonard Cohen’s serious eyes survey the pulsating dance scene benevolently. He, another artist who has performed beguiling concerts here, says: “It’s music so beautiful that it makes you want to slit your wrists.” The poetry of survival has to get under your skin!
Yet Grace Jones begins by telling me in her dark voice why she prefers to go out on stage so late. The fans are all rather worse for wear by then and past noticing that the 72-year-old is no longer quite as fit as she looks in the photos. Nowadays she would not appear topless at the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), as she did three years ago. However, her songs, especially those from her latest album “Hurricane”, continue to hold electrifying promise for dance parties.
On the evening of my perfect day, the warm-up act was jazz singer Melody Gardot, who served up an even more transparent sound than usual. “Music is my best drug,” insisted this charming lady, who has her roots in Vienna and Warsaw, was born in New Jersey and now lives in Paris. Gardot is still wearing sunglasses following a tragic accident at the age of 19 when she was run over by a jeep while riding her bicycle. She spent eleven months in hospital with spinal injuries and a traumatic brain injury, which still causes her problems today and has left her with hypersensitive eyes. However: “Singing gave me my life back.”
“The US rocker knows what it’s all about: Grace & Melody. Glamour & Beats. Showmanship & Music.”
Cavorting about in the audience is Lenny Kravitz, hiding behind large sunglasses, his leather trousers as skin-tight as ever. The headliner of 13 July in this 54th year of the concert is taking advantage of the opportunity to check out the competition in this intimate space. The US rocker knows what it’s all about: Grace & Melody. Glamour & Beats. Showmanship & Music. That is the nature of the intoxicating world of entertainment. This thrilling live pop art, which manages to explain the world through song in just a few minutes. Moreover, it ideally gets everyone dancing at the same time.
“Concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival have been offering the very finest stage appearances since 1967. Three reasons: brilliant acoustics; proximity, because here the artists appear as if magnified; Swiss hospitality.”
Concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival have been offering the very finest stage appearances since 1967. Three reasons: brilliant acoustics; proximity, because here the artists appear as if magnified; Swiss hospitality; and Lenny appreciates this too. At our last meeting, Kravitz was stoned out of his tree and prattled on about why he was so fit: “Lots of sex, my friend!” He fights off the problems of the world: “I’ve had enough of racism. I’ve had enough of war. I’ve had enough of environmental damage and the greed and duplicity of our politicians. We urgently need to develop a higher understanding for humankind and this planet.” His role model is Prince, who visited this area three times and even wrote a song about it in “Lavaux”, Kravitz describing him as the “genius of all geniuses”. Both artists gave legendary performances at MJF.
This year, alas, we can but dream of such concert highlights in Montreux. While some chant “Fuck Corona” in anger, for once Lenny Kravitz is keeping a cool head. He recently commented on the postponement of his world tour: “I hope I’ll see you all again soon in a safe environment. We are all one. Let us stand together. Let love rule.”
As Cohen already knew: “The last thought is the best thought.”
Mathias Haehl, Freelancer