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Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, and its 2nd largest city, with a population of 1.6 million within its administrative limits. Its urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.5 million people, being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, the Ruhr, Madrid and Milan. About five million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 ft) high.

Links With Peel

John Peel - Sonar 2002 - Video Diary 1

John Peel - Sonar 2002 - Video Diary 1

Peel's video diary at Sonar in 2002

The Peel show first visited Barcelona for the Sonar Festival in 2001, returning each year until 2004. Peel regularly drove from his home in Peel Acres to Barcelona each year due to his fear of flying. On 19 June 2001, Peel explained how he was tired coming back from Barcelona and how a bunch of French school children made him and his wife Sheila miserable on the ferry from Caen to Portsmouth:

I have to admit that I'm a very tired lad, cos I've driven up from Barcelona in two days, spurred on all the way of course by the thought of tonight's Belle and Sebastian session, their first in heaven only knows how long. We've been waiting for this for a couple of years or more. The first tune will be coming up in about three or four minutes time, I think. As I say, we've driven up from Barcelona in a couple of days. This morning we were up at quarter to five to catch the ferry from Caen to Portsmouth. Had to endure the traditional ordeal by French schoolchildren on the ferry, about a hundred of them - as hateful a group of people as I've ever encountered in all of my life! The Pig and I demonstrated the immovability that you'd associate with the Glorious Glosters of the Imjin River. We thought, we're not going to be driven out of here by these people, so we just sat there and they gave us hell, let me tell you. Anyway, Barcelona? Bright lights, big city? No question.

John Peel at Sónar 2001

John Peel at Sónar 2001

The 21 June 2001 show broadcasted Peel's first Sonar Festival and his travelogue experience visiting record shops and interviewing Dave Tarrida, owner of the Tresor label and Carl Cox, a house music DJ. Peel also performed a DJ set while he was there. On 26 June 2001, Peel mentioned  517 CDs had reportedly been delivered to the show's office during the 10 days that the production team were in Barcelona. Amongst these was the new EP ('Editor's Recommendation') from show favourites Half Man Half Biscuit, which got its first play of the summer.

On 13 June 2002 Peel was live on air in Barcelona not on his own show, but on the OneWorld programme following his show on BBC Radio One. On the same month, talks about going to Sonar and being asked to play at a Beach Boys club event on his show from 18 June 2002. The following year, BBC Radio One allowed Peel to have a four hour show under the Sonar / One World Special, where Peel played some of the artist performances from Barcelona on 12 June 2003. Peel mentioned on his Radio Eins show on 03 July 2003 (Radio Eins) that he wanted to play the reformed Undertones single Thrill Me at a gig in the Sonar Festival, but had forgotten to bring it with him:

I meant to take that with me to Barcelona because on one of the nights there, the first night, they had ten DJs at a sort of private party I guess. There were a lot of people there including members of my family. I had to come on and do half an hour...and I had to follow Jeff Mills, which wasn't an easy thing to have to do, but nevertheless, I didn't get booed or anything, and he was really nice about it. I really wanted to have that record with me, and I left it at home. Very cross about that.

On his final visit to Sonar in June 2004, Peel got carried away in Barcelona with the Euro Football Championship Quarter Finals between England and Portugal rather than on his show on 24 June 2004. Also on the same month, Peel was scheduled to compere an all-star Lonnie Donegan tribute concert at the Albert Hall but was eventually unable to attend the event due to travel delays on his return from the Sonar festival in Barcelona.

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