The End!

The End!

So this is it- its Sunday evening – 9 days, 9 concerts is over! I have seen 26 bands and listened to 353 songs and its been amazing. A little tired with a sore thoat and slightly disappointed that I don’t have a concert to go to this evening! However, I have some good memories and heard some awesome music, Optimus Alive promised much but in the end was disappointing, the two concerts from the Cascais Music Festival that I saw rocked, and Mares Vivas bought the 9 days to a fitting end like a rising and falling tide.

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Would I do it again? Yes probably but it would depend on the bands who are playing and I would take all the days off work. Portugal is lucky to have so many bands visiting- I have seen 48 so far this year and there are more to come in the autumn – and I hope it continues. If you have been following the blog then thank you – I have been amazed at the response and I even have got views from Russia, India and Argentina.
That’s it from me – Adeus por enquanto / Goodbye for the time being. Its back to work for me this week and then the Olympic Marathon begins – I have tickets for 15 sports over the 17 days of the games as well as Closing Ceremony tickets. Will I be blogging – well probably I have enjoyed doing it and will be a fantastic way to record what happens, as well as a link for others to follow – it will help me remember what happened over this amazing 2 weeks. Ate ja!
 
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9 Days 9 Concerts
 
Best Group: The Scissor Sisters
 
Best Song: “I don’t feel like Dancing” by The Scissor Sisters and “Sexy and I know it” by LMFAO
 
Most Amusing Moment: The conversation between the drunk English guy on the train and his girlfriend after Optimus Alive on Day 3 (please  see blog for transcipt) 
 
Biggest Gripe: The view spoiling freebie hats.
 
Best Freebie: After many years of trying I eventually got a TMN blue scarf.
 
Most Impressive Band I hadn’t seen before: A tie between Mumford and Sons, Buraka Sem Sistema, The Sounds and Virgem Suta.
 
Band I would buy the CD of: Mumford and Sons (I already have the new Keane and Scissor Sisters Albums).
 
Biggest Disapointment: The Stone Roses and the last minute cancellation of Florence and the Machine.
 
Missed Opportunity: Not seeing AWOL Nation and not blagging a TMN beanbag.
 
Most Surreal Experience: Eating Soup whilst watching live rock – and the bizarre and amazing strong smell of lavender at the end of the Scissor Sisters concert.
 
Best Quote:We would like to stay and play some more, but we have play in Scotland tomorrow, where it is raining!” Ana Matronic, The Scissor Sisters.
 
Special Award: The blond barmaid in the VIP Lounge, who after 3 hours of the first Mares Vivas concert, began pouring my drink before I asked, This continued for the next three nights! Thank you!    

 

Day 9: I’m all out of love….and concerts.

Day 9: I’m all out of love….and concerts.

Well here it is the last day. Spent most of it shopping, sleeping and recovering, however, I did manage to catch up with myself and get my sleep balance sorted out.  Day Nine bought together a rather eclectic group of singers which occured because the Scissor Sisters withdrew from the line up. For some reason they had double booked themselves with the BT River of Music in London and pulled out of Mares Vivas about one month before the event. Good for me that they rescheduled to play in Cascais earlier in the week!

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I headed down to the venue, got there early to watch a fantastic sunset and see Monica Ferraz, a Porto based artist singing in perfect English. Very jazz based and slightly souly, but was a good sound to eat soup to and see the sun slip down for the last evening of 9 days of Hedonism. The buffet was better tonight, Pasta salads and Bacalhau a Bras (salted cod and potato in a crème sauce – it tastes better than in sounds!) with gateaux for pudding.

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The Hives followed with their garage, slightly punk rock sound, a bizarre puppeteer based set and full top hat and tails! I am not a big fan but listened to the whole set. Why the lead singer was speaking with a bizarre strained ghetto Jamaican accent is a mystery, and his banter with the crowd was very bizarre at times. The younger crowd tended to be more interested in this band and the park emptied markably afterwards

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The highlight of the evening was Anastacia. Blasing onto the stage with “Why’d you Lie to me” the next hour and a half was an amazing! A sound problem on the third song “Cowboys and Kisses” was a comedy moment and was shrugged off with the comment “At least you can tell I am singing live!”. She also confused the stage hands by adding songs before the the stunning duet “I Belong to you (il ritmo della passione)”, originally recorded with Eros Ramazzotti, with one of her backing singers.

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 “Not that Kind” followed mid set and started with the backing musicians performing the first verse beat boy style, which was amazing. “Underground Army” – a cool tribute to her fans followed, before she played and interacted with the crowd well, picking up on a impromptu version of “We are family” started by her fans in the front rows.

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A cover version of “Empire State of Mind” followed, after which she sang part of it again, replacing New York with Porto! Then came a procession of her hits which the crowd loved and along to – “Paid my Dues”, “One Day in my Life” and “Left outside alone”. Her encore was the amazing “I’m outta Love” to which I lost it big time, an awesome end to a fantastic set.

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The night wasn’t finished yet, with Pedro Albrunhosa bringing his version of Portuguese Rock to the stage. With his trademark bald head and sunglasses, the Ídolos judge (the Portuguese Pop Idol) judge bought Mares Vivas to a close with a very good set which the crowd enjoyed. He finished with the iconic “Esta Noite” a fitting end to “9 Dias de Hedimismo”.

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Best Song: “I´m Outta Love” Anastacia
Biggest Gripe: Three actually – One, the guys gatecrashing the VIP area through a flap in the tent, which they had undone when the security guy was being chatted up by one of their friends. Two, the three dads standing together,  who in  unison put their young daughters on their shoulders at the beginning of Anastacia – totally blocking the view of the people behind them, including me! – totally rude and selfish. The girls were all looking bored and sleepy, were not interested in Anastacia and were too busy looking at the crowd The crowd was patchy at best and the kids could have seen easily when standing. Sorry rant over! Lastly – Why is it when you have managed to get more than one freebie, everyone expects you to give the duplicates away? I managed twice, on thurday and tonight, to get 3 EDP flashing batons (If you take the outer skin off they make great mood lights)and on the way back to the VIP section I was accosted twice by people insisting that I should give them one! I was lucky I just happened to be standing by the guy giving them away and I managed to get them in the freebie mêlée! I just told them “no I don’t work for EDP and that I had 3 children” and walked away! I managed this in Portuguese – which I was quite impressed with!
Funniest Moment : Again three. Firstly Anastacia being given a “Queen of Porto” sash by a mamber of the audience, parading around the stage to “God Save the Queen” and then giving a pageant acceptance speach in cluding “I am happy to be blond and want to bring peace to the world to make it peaceful!”. Secondly, a girl in the VIP Lounge who obviously had taken a fashion magazine’s advice on what to wear to a concert too literally and was actually wearing green wellies. The article had obviously forgot to say you only need these for concerts in England – it hasn’t rained here in 6 weeks! And lastly, a guy in the crowd trying to look cool – cropped hair, tattoos, gangsta look with his jeans half way down his backside – revealing awful Homer Simpson boxers!

Day 8: Not hot in the city

Day 8: Not hot in the city

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After exploring the sale at Ikea in Porto, I headed down to the site early for two reasons, first to get pictures of the sunset over the estuary from river level and second to catch the sushi buffet. I was only successful on the first on – as the sushi buffet didn´t happen! So I decided to head off to the second stage. As the venue is small and the two stages face each other then there is music on the second before and after the main stage until 6 am in the morning. How many people are there then I hate to think! A Portuguese band called Virgem Suto were playing. A funky, almost tongue in cheek sound that interested me –  I am definitely going to check out this band further when I have time.

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After heading back to the VIP area for food and more soup! I slipped down to the main stage to see Ebony Bones. Surreal is not the word. It started off with lots of orange smoke welcoming the two backing singers wearing giant horse heads. Then Ebony Bones, complete with massive Afro and giant garlands around her neck burst onto the stage. The music was good but the stage performance was very bizarre. The crowd was small and not everyone appreciated it. I was enthralled to see what would come next!

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I was not disappointed – dressed in a large white flowing dress with big arms, she swirled through four songs before replacing it with a fluorescent green tassel dress to shimmy her way through the rest of the set. She was mad as a box of hares, a really interesting singer whose personality burst its way onto the stage in an amazing way.

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Os Azeitonas (the olives) followed – a Portuguese cross between Dire Straits and Simply Red with a big band sound. They began with the theme to Hawaii 5-0 and then launched into a series of Portuguese songs that I didn´t know, however some have been used for adverts on TV here. However, the crowd liked it and filled out to its 25,000 capacity  quickly.

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Billy Idol rocked the stage for the next hour and a half. Very popoular with the crowd with many singing along to his hits. The Generation X “Ready Steady Go” was his first song and then was followed by “Dancing with myself” which really got the crowd going. Hits interspersed with less popular songs followed, with “Flesh for Fantasy” and “Sweet Sixteen” belted out during this high energy set.  “Eyes without a Face” followed with Billy changing into the archetypal gothic white shirt he is renowned for. A cover of the Doors´  “LA Woman”, or “Portuguese Woman” as the “Big Dog” put it followed. Billy messed up on one song, but stopped the song and re sang it well.

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An awesome Steve Stevens acoustic guitar solo followed based on spanish flamenco music and Billy followed it with three generation X songs. “Rebel Yell” ended the set before the encore of “White Wedding” and “Mony Mony” finished an awesome crowd pleasing set. Billy played the crowd, throwing freebies out thoughout the set and even swapping t´shirts with a fan. “Mony Mony” was amazing – took me back to university when we used to play volleyball next to an aerobics session that used that song. I have no voice this morning! “No Hot in the city”, which would have been apt, but a really good enjoyable set that everyone liked.

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Gogol Bordelo bought their gypsy rock to the stage next. Toe tapping and very danceable. However, I saw them in Lisbon last year so as I was seriously suffering from the lack of sleep over the last 6 days I gave up and headed home.

Best Song: Mony Mony

Biggest Gripe: People in the crowd talking lowdly as the concert is on – if you don´t like the music get out of there and talk elsewhere! Also the girl behing me whose bag was digging into my side all the way through the Billy Idol concert. And no sushi buffet!

Most amusing moment: Watching people go crazy over the freebie Nestle Fitness cereal boxes that were being given out – one woman had 12!

Day 7: Rock and Soup

Day 7: Rock and Soup

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Well after six days of partying hard today was a rest day, spent most of the time catching up with the zd’s I have missed over the last week. The only problem was that the hotel kept waking me up to ask when they could clean my room! I headed down to the site and watched the sun set on the way. Arrived mid buffet but missed out on the sushi again – note to self – come a bit earlier tomorrow.  As there were 4 bands on the main stage, the event started earlier and the Scottish rock band Gun launched the proceedings.  Providing a stadium rock sound they warmed the festival up well. The group have been touring with The Cult on this part of their European Tour and were polished and entertaining. I watched from a distance eating soup in the VIP area – yes soup – it was quite bizarre experience and definitely not very rock and roll! The set finished with three crowd pleasing numbers including “Steel your fire”, their version of Cameo’s “Word Up” and “Shame on you”.

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After this I went in a successful search of concert swag – please see separate blog on this issue  – and got back in time to see The Cult start on the main stage. I have never been a Cult fan, however their version of pseudo goth rock was interesting. The trip hazard on the stage hit again, upsetting the classic ´raise the microphone stand above your head´ move. As the lead singer stepped back he tripped and had to drop the stand! Amusing but he didn’t end up falling over though! The only song I recognized was “She Sells Sanctuary” with it jangling melody got the crowd going. One question – how rock and roll is it to use a tambourine all the way through your set?

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The stage crew were really on form tonight with the changeovers happening quick and fast, and before we knew it Garbage hit the stage. Awesome set, with Shirley Manson on top form. Classic Garbage all the way! The new “Automatic System Habit” was followed by “Shut your mouth” and “I think I’m Paranoid”, which got the crowd rocking and singing along. The melodic  “Queer” and the enigmatic “Stupid Girl” followed, backed up with a series of their newer music.

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Shirley got really annoyed with the crowd when she saw someone throwing things, ending in a foul mouthed rant that promised if she, or security, caught anyone throwing things they would be “f***** up big time by security and removed! She made it clear she was serious and no one should mess with her, was “having “women´s issues” and could “eat meat”!  Real Scottish fighting talk!  This was a bit bizarre to say the least! During the set there were two short impromptu acapella versions of songs requested from the crowd which were good and the set finished with the crowd pleasing “Only happy when it rains” which fortunately it didn´t. Garbage lived up to their reputation, brilliant music and always likely to shock!

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The Kaiser Chiefs then rocked the festival with their version of indie rock. A few manic warm up tunes started the set followed by “Every day I love you less and less” and “I predict a riot” began a sing along by the crowd for the rest of the concert. New songs were interspersed with old classics like “Ruby” which was amazing. Ricky Wilson was full of energy and hyperactive, at one stage climbing the structure at the side of the stage, and towards the end of the set, leaving the stage and singing from the top of the 30 foot bank at the back of the venue, blagging a beer on the way! The set finished with Ricky declaring “We are Kaiser Chiefs (not for the first time that evening), and we are Portuguese!” and then singing a “Oh my God”. A big band, brilliantly entertaining a big crowd on a big stage. Some of their new stuff is really good – time to check it out I think.

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Best Song: A tie between “Ruby”, “I predict a Riot” and ”Stupid Girl”

Biggest Gripe: I can´t say the hats this time as I won one and was wearing it all night! Missed the sushi buffet again and got annoyed at the endless queus in the main park. It is so nice to have a place of sanctuary to go to. There was also some really dodgy history lessons from The Cult about Porto being a centre where people went out to colonise the new world and “kill lots of indians” and from Garbage about how Porto looks like San Francisco and Goa because of the Portuguese influence and colonies. These were really patronising!

Most amusing moment: Watching Shelley Manson sing whilst striding round and round in large circles on the stage.

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Lost Day

Sorry for the late post for Day 6 – the hotel Internet was down and I couldn’t post. Thanks for your comments. Stella – thanks! I must be doing something right to look 25!  and Phil – there is no such problem with curfews here. With the final act at Mares Vivas playing at 1am, followed by the second stage running between 3am and 6am there doesn’t seem to be any concept of keeping the neighbours happy! Its a shame it happens in the UK a few minutes leeway at the Bruce Springsteen concert would not have hurt anyone! 

Day 6: Porto Bound

Day 6: Porto Bound

After a long lie in and a day sorting things out in a baking Lisbon (42OC) I escaped to the cooler climate of Porto. Eventually found the hotel, the one way system here in Vila Nova de Guia is bizarre! The hotel was a pretty good Mecure for the price and I managed to check in just before a big coach tour so I was lucky! I headed down to the site. It was about 15 minutes away through an out of town shopping village and this great little road which took you through a small housing estate in a valley that looked like an old typical Portuguese village. The juxtaposition between this and the concert venue, set in an old quarry, was amazing!

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I found the VIP entrance and for the next hour joined the “Beautiful People” at the open bar and the buffet. After the queues for everything at the last 5 concerts this was heaven – instant service! Decent toilets, bean bags (I must try and blag one of these at the end of the concert) and white sofas and beds to sit and relax on. Also there was a fantastic early warning system for when the band is about to start – all the press suddenly darted for the exit to be taken to the front of the stage.

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The night started with The Sounds, a Swedish indie rock band from Helsingborg, who produced a clean crisp rock sound. I thought they were American due to their accents, but hey! The music was great, rock where you could hear and understand the lyrics and even sing along. High energy from the band helped and for once the heavy base drowning the lyrics preferred by Portuguese sound engineers  was banished, to give a great sound. Highlights included “Somrething to Die For” “Tony the Beat” and the finale “Hope your happy now”. Pleasing , high energy pop that set the scene for the evening and got the crowd warmed up. Even the bats flying round the site seemed to like the sound!

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If The Sounds produced crisp pop, the australian Wolfmother were the complete opposite , heavy dirty rock which was really not my cup of tea. I listened to a couple of songs and then retreated to the VIP section, where I watched whilst lounging on a beanbag with a drink. Unlike The Sounds there was no differentiation between song types and heavy rock was the order of the whole set.

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After noticing the sudden rush of the press to the exit, like hyenas to a kill, I made my way back the main stage to see Franz Ferdinand. Complete with a backdrop portrait of the man himself, the group rocked the stage for the next hour and a half. Starting with the strutting “Do you want to” and then after a whole series of crowd pleasers, the dancey  “Take me out” came early in the set. The new song “Right Thoughts” provided an upbeat and melodic interlude, before “This Fire” and “The Dark of the Machine” bought the classic Franz Ferdinand sound back. A high energy “Can’t stop Feeling” followed with the band sampling the “I feel love” baseline and launching into a Franz Ferdinand- esque  version of the dance song afterwards was cool. The set finished with “Michael” ending up with all four members of the band playing on the same set of drums. Classic indie rock creating a good first day for this understated festival.

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Best Song : “Take me out” followed by Franz Ferdinand`s version of  “I Feel Love”

Biggest Gripe: Those hats again and the uphill walk back to the hotel!

Funniest Moment: Watching the lead singer of The Sounds fall over a cable on the stage half way through a song. Mid chorus she ran backwards from the mike stand and next thing she was on her back with her legs in the air!  She got up and carried on as if nothing had happened, but the crowd loved it.

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