by Devapriyo Das, Yang Jingzhong
ROSKILDE, Denmark, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The 2012 edition of Denmark's Roskilde Festival, one of the biggest in Europe, closed Sunday with music critics and reviewers here saying the event delivered a host of sterling performances and a crop of upcoming stars.
In all, 200 bands mainly from Europe and the U.S. performed a variety of musical genres on seven concert stages over the course of the four-day long event.
Leading performers included legendary U.S. rock star Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, British alternative rock group The Cure, Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork, and Danish hip-hop sensation Malk De Koijn.
"There has been a good mix of bands, old and new, big and small, and of various genres. It has been a good program," said Ole Rosenstand Svidt, sub-editor of Gaffa, Denmark's leading music magazine.
A veteran of 12 Roskilde festivals, Svidt said to Xinhua that the festival program 2012 was superior to last year's as it featured more big names on the main, Orange concert arena, which can hold 60,000 spectators.
That arena was packed to capacity Saturday when Springsteen set the evening alight with such hits as "Dancing in the Dark" and "Twist and Shout," and delved deep into the rock and folk music tradition that has made him a musical superstar for over four decades.
Svidt said Springsteen's non-stop, three-hour long set was the signature performance of this year's festival: "Even though a lot of people have seen him before, as he has played several shows earlier in Denmark, most will go home thinking he was the main name this year."
According to an April report by Danish newspaper B.T., Roskilde Festival paid Springsteen 11.5 million Danish kroner (around 1.9 million U.S. dollars), to play at the festival this year. The sum corresponds to around 30 percent of the event's 40 million kroner (6.6 million dollars) budget for 2012, an amount Svidt believes was "worth it," given Springsteen's "crowd pleasing" performance.
Other stars of the festival included The Cure, who entranced the audience through a hypnotic, two-hour set Thursday, their deep chords echoing in the long, summer twilight.
Moreover, world music lovers were treated to afro-pop by blind, singer couple Amadou and Mariam from Mali, and to salsa music from Ruben Blades of Panama.
"This year, world music took its final steps out of its niche (at the festival) and on to the Orange stage, where Amadou and Mariam played Sunday," wrote Kristoffer Hegnsvad, music critic for Danish national newspaper Politiken, on Monday.
He said the festival had matured to the point that festival-goers can hear artistes from around the world perform on the main stage, "in a mash-up of genres and nationalities."
"That is the sound of music without boundaries, and the best part of the musical experience that the festival provides," Hegnsvad added.
Among up-and-coming musicians, Svidt pointed to Canadian blues singer Cold Specks, and to U.S. soul and blues quartet Alabama Shakes, as the festival's best newcomers and the names to watch in future.
This diverse program helped attract nearly 80,000 festival guests, many of whom pitched their tents at the festival campsite near the town of Roskilde, some 35 kilometers west of the Danish capital Copenhagen.
The festival was fortunate this year to avoid the heavy, summer rain showers that often plague the event. Neither did violent disruptions or incidents mar the event, which is famous for its peaceful and friendly atmosphere.
However, one male audience member, identified by Danish police as a 20-year-old Swedish man, died of a presumed, accidental drug overdose early last week, during the warm-up stage of the festival. That marked the second year running that a festival guest has died at the event, after a 35-year-old German woman fell to her death from a high tower on the festival premises in 2011.
Created in 1971, the Roskilde Festival was initially known as the Roskilde Sound Festival, and its first edition featured just 13 performances over two days. It has since been run by the non-profit Roskilde Foundation, with all proceeds going to support music, culture and humanitarian causes. The festival made a profit of 19.6 million kroner (around 3.2 million dollars) in 2011, which it donated to charity.