Wednesday, May 25

Muse, Balaídos and an appointment with the polls in 2023: Xunta and Abel Caballero engage in a concert

It took time to confirm but finally everything points to Muse, the English trio that with their glam rock epic style that amazed Europe a decade ago, will end up playing in Galicia this year. What is certain is that his name has become the main ammunition in the umpteenth battle of a war, the one between the Vigo City Council and the Xunta de Galicia, this time for the organization of the band’s concert under the patronage of Xacobeo. “We have managed to get the mayor to bend his pulse, cornered by his own lies”, the Galician Government delegate in the city boasted as if it were a strategic victory. It was the provisional climax to two weeks of controversy. The next day he gave a date: on September 8, Muse will go on stage at Balaídos.

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The background of the fight is, of course, electoral. The pre-campaign has begun: in 2023 there will be municipal elections and the Popular Party, sunk in the city, is looking for any way of attacking an Abel Caballero who concentrates 70% of the vote. And, thus, it is explained that the dispute has become from the beginning a matter of State. From state to regional level. It was the Galician president himself, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who announced on April 21 a mysterious “important” action in Vigo. And he added: “If they let us.” He did not specify more, and referred the details to Alfonso Rueda, then already his explicit successor. No one seemed surprised that Feijóo used the lectern from which he offered the press conferences after his cabinet meetings – this Thursday he gave the last one after 13 years – for a rather local news story with hardly any information. He had been doing it for weeks in relation to all the cities in the community. He even relocated the government meetings in a movement linked to the municipal elections and the weakness of his party in the Galician urban area.

Only one day after Feijóo’s intervention, Rueda maintained the suspense. He stated that this “important concert” in Vigo “was practically closed.” But he didn’t mention Muse’s name either. Revealing it corresponded to the delegate of the Xunta in the city, Marta Fernández-Tapias. The Galician leadership of the PP has commissioned her to rebuild the local party. The Socialists monopolize 20 of the 27 seats in the plenary, the popular four, the Marea – alliance of United We Can and the nationalists of Anova – two and the BNG one. Fernández-Tapias spoke on April 27, six days after Feijóo, and reported that the already famous “important concert” was by Muse but not really, since the Vigo City Council refused to give up the Balaídos stadium for the event. Caballero had warned before knowing the musical proposal: the works made it impossible, despite the fact that Celta was playing its games there. The alternative, the Castrelos park, did not work: only the City Council organizes events there, he said. And besides, the mayor compulsorily presents them, on stage and loudly.

“Bad faith and institutional disloyalty”

“We would need the largest capacity venue in the city. It was up to the mayor, Abel Caballero, to accept the proposal so that it would be in Vigo or, on the contrary, maintain his boycott strategy. His veto, unfortunately, causes us to lose the concert, ”said Fernández-Tapias. And he also said that the band had only confirmed two dates in the State, in Mallorca and Madrid. He forgot Malaga, the dates are actually three. An hour later, the local government responded with a statement in which it denied having received any request from the Xunta to use Balaídos. The alderman accused the Xunta of bad faith and institutional disloyalty. A new conflict broke out between the two administrations.

Not even 15 days had passed since the previous one, in fact a small scuffle, on account of the institutional advertising of Xacobeo in Vigo taxis. Abel Caballero criticized him for understanding that the Holy Year is a “festival of Santiago” and that the LED lights with which the town hall floods Vigo at Christmas “attract more people than the entire Camino de Santiago. They should spend the money promoting them.” Furthermore, he added, Christmas is a 2,000-year-old historical tradition. But the Muse thing was bigger than the skirmish with the taxis. Because a new factor had come into play: Real Club Celta de Vigo.

It had been the team that had filed a petition with the city council – owner of Balaídos – to use the stadium and hold “events and concerts” to celebrate the club’s centenary. Allied with the Galician Government, they were looking for a subterfuge to avoid Caballero. The relations of this with the presidency of Celta are manifestly improvable. Not to say bad. Knowing this implication, the mayor returned to the charge and then attacked the Xunta and, above all, against its vice-president, future president, and political person in charge of pageantry and Jacobean programming: Alfonso Rueda. He only pronounces “lies and slanders against the city” and wants Muse – whose performances in Spain are managed by the production company Zircozine – to play somewhere else in Galicia. And this was precisely the turning point of the story.

A Coruña appears and Caballero backs down

On May 2, in an unusual gesture, Abel Caballero began to put the brakes on. He changed his mind and assured that the agreement for the Xunta to take Muse to Balaídos was possible. Or else to Castrelos. And he asked to meet with Rueda “or some councilor” to undo the mess. What had happened? That A Coruña had interfered and another municipally owned stadium, that of Riazor, was the second option of the Galician Government. And in the city council, governed by the same Socialist Party to which Caballero belongs, there seemed to be a better disposition. Two days later, he insisted: “That the Muse concert come to Vigo, because they want to take it to A Coruña. I meet tomorrow and we close the Muse concert in Balaídos”. The works were no longer an obstacle. The city council would stop them for as long as necessary. “I am not going to allow them to take him to A Coruña”, he insisted. The alleged rivalry between the two largest cities in Galicia, food for local-oriented politicians, unblocked the situation. The Xunta, through its delegate in the city, sang victory.

“Abel Caballero has been cornered in his own lies and his own strategy of confronting the Xunta solely and exclusively to obtain political gains and attack people”, Marta Fernández-Tapias, whom the Galician Government, and therefore both the PP, had given up all the leading role in the confrontation. Feijóo, in his last appearance after his last Council as president of Galicia, returned to the matter and intensified the volume of criticism against Caballero: “What happens with the Xacobeo in Vigo is a constant boycott.” On Friday, at a press conference, Fernández-Tapia read the part of the Vigo councilor’s defeat, reported Europa Press: Muse will perform in Balaídos on September 8 and the local government “has been an example of how things should not be done , wasting time and putting the concert at risk”.

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