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Wednesday April 11, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

We're in the Swiss resort for its annual festival, Zermatt Unplugged. It is one of our favourite events in the mountains. Here’s why…




DAY TWO, Wednesday 11th April

Day 2 was going to have rather a lot to live up to.

The first day of the festival had been a treat with some rather unexpected encounters:

Today was going to be a ski and music day.

The Ronnie Scott's All Star band doing at set at the Gandegg Hutte mountain restaurant at well over 3,000m.  

Jazz at altitude.

And then the plan was to drop down into the Italian resort of Cervinia for a blast around the slopes.

There was only one problem (to start with).

Cervinia (on the right and with red lights against all its lifts) appeared to be shut without a single lift open.

Strong winds I guess.

Zermatt Unplugged 2018Zermatt Unplugged 2018













And then when we passed by Gandegg Huttee the restaurant was open, but the band nowhere to be seen.

The poor weather had meant the concert moved to the Alex hotel in town, several thousand metres down.

No matter, I'm not much of a fan of jazz anyway.

But I was told later it was rather good.

Down at the Hotel Alex, Zermatt UnpluggedDown at the Hotel Alex, Zermatt Unplugged














I'd just have to spend the morning blasting the slopes of Kleine Matterhorn and the Gornegrat in Zermatt before heading over to see some music in the afternoon in the Sunnega and Blauherd areas of the resort.

It's a tough life.

And blast I did.

Round some of my favourites slopes in the mountains with fellow festival goers.

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Zermatt Unplugged 2018Zermatt Unplugged 2018
















Zermatt Unplugged 2018Zermatt Unplugged 2018
















Lunch was at a favourite spot - Grunsee.

"What's the soup of the day?" I enquired to the waiter.

"Vegetarian soup with meatballs," he said with a deadpan face.

I thought of commenting...  

"Great, that sounds fantastic," I said.

And fantastic it was, vegetarian or otherwise.

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After lunch it was Zermatt Unplugged..... time for some music.

We headed to the Blue Lounge where there is a stage for newcomers.

Inside it was packed.

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Even the ski instructors from one of the local schools had selected it as their lunch spot of choice.

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I managed to wiggle my way to the front (years of practice) to hear the band.

They gave it their all.

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This should have been the stage (the Matterhorn is up their in the clouds behind the stage), but the weather changed plans.

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On the way down it was Max Prosa at the Cervo.
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And then the managing director of the festival Rolf Furrer had kindly found time in his busy schedule to talk to me and PlanetSKI.

As Rolf said in the video interview, Zermatt Unplugged is a boutique festival and so next up was a wander around the main outside area.

Listening to a wide mix of bands and simply soaking up the atmosphere - the best part of any festival in my opinion.

First to check out was this band:

Zermatt Unplugged 2018Zermatt Unplugged 2018
















The Balkan band Suma Covjek - if only for the name.. well, for me the second name. Wink

A bit like a Balkan version of Madness!

And next up is the second night headliner in the Big Top - Emeli Sande.

And then The Kooks... check back later to see how the evening unfolds.

So, had Day Two two lived up to Day One?<

So far so good, and I'm only half way through it with the main action to come tonight..

UPDATE 20.30

Well, well, well.

"It looks like it may snow heavily tonight and as we are in what is effectively a giant tent if it does then after 45-minutes we may have to stop the concert and clear the roof of snow by hosing it down," announced the compere on stage ahead of the concert.

I didn't know whether to pray for snow or no snow.

But this is the giant tent in question.

Snow on top might be an issue.

Zermatt UnpluggedZermatt Unplugged















I decided I'd rather hear Emeli Sande.

Good call.

She had one of the most amazing voices I have heard in ages.

Emile Sande, Zermatt UnpluggedEmile Sande, Zermatt Unplugged
















I had heard of the Scottish singer-song writer but never paid much attention.

Big mistake.


And when she sang with her guitarist it was perhaps the best moment of a fabulous, fabulous evening.

Emile Sande, Zermatt UnpluggedEmile Sande, Zermatt Unplugged
















Emile Sande, Zermatt UnpluggedEmile Sande, Zermatt Unplugged
















And then she took to the piano, solo, for her song Clown.

Time stopped.

Emile Sande, Zermatt UnpluggedEmile Sande, Zermatt Unplugged
















And for afters?

UPDATE: 22.30

And as it is Zermatt Unplugged there was only one way to play the band's most famous song:

It was the culmination of a belter of a set with all the old favourites and a few new ones.

Oh, and guess who took time out to introduce The Kooks despiet all his other commitments?

Only Rolf who spoke to PlanetSKI earlier in the day.

Rolf Furrer, MD of Zermatt UnpluggedRolf Furrer, MD of Zermatt Unplugged
















"This is the first time we have played as an après ski band," joked lead singer, 33-year old Luke Pritchard.

"It's also the first time we have played on a tennis court as far as I am aware."

The Zermatt Unplugged venue at the Alex Hotel is its underground tennis courts.

"Merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup," Luke kept saying as the applause thundered around the tennis court.

I guess he didn't know Zermatt is in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

The Kooks, Zermatt UnpluggedThe Kooks, Zermatt Unplugged
















The Kooks, Zermatt UnpluggedThe Kooks, Zermatt Unplugged
















I hoped he knew more sensible footwear is required once he leaves the stage.

Gig shoes not apres ski bootsGig shoes not apres ski boots<















Now I never know if bands are just going through motions when they are on stage, only they know that.

But The Kooks were brilliant - engaging, humble, witty and they seemed genuinely pleased to be performing.

Their skills as musicians have improved since I first saw them as a Brighton band back in 2005 and then at the Isle of Wight Festival afre years later.

When their allotted slot at Zermatt Unplugged was up they didn't seem to want to leave the stage.

They reminded me of Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie as they took their curtain call.

But they've got a bit of a way to go to match those 'boys'. Wink

Curtain call...Curtain call...

















Hats off guys... a brilliant, brilliant gig.

And my plan for tomorrow?

No idea.

Ski round Zermatt and listen to more music I guess.

But will Day 3 surpass Day 2?

Maybe or maybe not...


For more detail on the Unplugged Festival then see here.

For information about Zermatt here is the resort web site and for details on the skis and snowboards offer by Intersport across the Alps and beyond then see here.   

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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