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Publié le, 19 juin 2023 par KATJA BECHTEL

It is one of the many tropical nights of this endless Sahara summer 2022 in Geneva. I love Brazilian music and culture, hence, I came to see Gilberto Gil, a Brazilian legend singer-song writer at “Scène Ella Fitzgerald”. Well, I am not the only one! The venue is bursting from hundreds of people picnicking on the ground while waiting for Gilberto & family to take the stage. From far away I hear sounds coming from the stage, it is impossible to get even remotely close. It is hot, it is getting late. Gilberto – this won’t be our night!

What a start of what was to become a very long and eventful night. Am I really going to start my first Paleo festival experience in Nyon today? Maybe not! Tomorrow is another day of a long festival week…

But wait: Sting is staring at Paléo tonight. If there is one artist of whom I know the lyrics of almost all songs,it would be Sting! Also, I am not only going to Paléo for pleasure but for sharing my impressions with the readers of ContinentPremier. So, let’s forget Gilberto, get hydrated, and hop on the train to Nyon. Sting – singer, author, actor, activist is waiting!

It is dark when we arrive at Paléo. Over thousands of people, as I learn later, are here to see one of the giants of international music - but the atmosphere is light, friendly and full of excitement. Even a breeze is in the air. There is no time for a big tour of the site, but I it is clear that this festival is huge! Eight different stages play everything from Reggae, to French chansons to Techno, as I see from the Paléo App.

Luckily being a media representatives for ContinentPremier give us access to a special stage next to the “Grande Scène”. We now have a bird’s eye view on Sting and thousands of people singing, hands up in the air. Wow! I am not the only one who knows all lyrics by heart!

Aged 70, Sting has not lost any of his groove. The “Englishmen in New York” plays some new songs from his album “The Bridge”, influenced from experiences during the Pandemic but also old songs from his days with “The Police”. These are the songs we know and love and that the crowd wants to hear. Thank you, Sting, for bringing us back in time with “Message in a Bottle” straight to ”Roxanne” in her red dress and then far up to the moon. “Every little thing …” you do is still so magic!

After this magical festival start with Sting, I surprise myself by visiting Paléo every single day. On some days after a night with little sleep I think about taking a break…and then find myself again in the train to Nyon. There must be something about Paléo! Every day the atmosphere is different depending on who are the main acts on the “Grand Scène”. Well, “Ninho” or DJ Snake attract different crowds than Francis Cabrel. Apropos Francis, performing on the third day: I think I was the only person at Paléo who has never heard of this guy before and never consciously heard one of his songs (I am German). Paléo educates!

At Paléo 2022, there is no mud (although that can happen as well, I heard) but the sticky dust that is hanging in the air all day long due to lack of rain I could still find days later inside my water bottle. Access to water – to hydrate, to wash, to cool down – is something the festival needs to pay much more attention to, given that this was likely not the last sweaty summer. Fountains with free drinking water need to increase in numbers and there should be more places to relax sheltered from the sun. Otherwise, the festival organisation was very smooth with incredibly friendly and helpful staff all around.

My favourite place at Paléo becomes the “Village du Monde”, an area of the festival with a stage “Dôme" staring artists from West Africa this year as well as shops, finally some nice places to rest in the shade, and food from this part of the world. Indeed, on the last day we find the best place to eat “Yassa” at a Senegalese stand.

This is also the venue of another festival highlight and a true discovery for me while he is certainly not a newcomer: Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, singer and saxophonist from Nigeria. The youngest son of AfroBeat legend Fela Kuti blends jazz, funk, soul with traditional Nigerian music in a way that makes even the most tired festival visitor move. His voice, his rhythm, his energy are original and unique. His presence on stage, supported by two lovely singer-dancers, is just breath-taking and irresistible. I am still catching my breath! Paléo – this guy deserves to be on the “Grand Scène” next year!




Finally, “Stromae” starring on the Sunday, the final festival day just after the big fireworks, should not go unmentioned. After a once in a life-time concert in 2014, the Belgian artist made his second visit to Paléo. Stromae is unique, brilliant and his shows are unheard-of. Honestly, this time the spark did not really ignite. Blame it on my sleep deprivation after five Paléo days or the almost unbearable heat that must have had an effect on him. 

Would I do a festival marathon like this again? Not sure. Maybe I would only visit for one or two days…but wait! Paléo 2023 will feature Latin-America. That is quite compelling from my point of view. Maybe I can finally see Gilberto Gil who I missed at Parc La Grange?  Maybe I can already book one of this luxury tents in the camping area which will make for a much less stressful festival experience? Paléo 2023 - Vamos!