Day 5: Magic Hour(s) in Cascais

Day 5: Magic Hour(s) in Cascais

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After last night’s balmy evening I didn’t think it could get better – but it did. I left work at 6pm in 34oC. The traffic getting out of Lisbon was horrible but eased further west. The crowd was disappointingly small, but filled out later. Friends were right at the front, but I moved back before the concert started as I wanted to dance, and bumped into other friends. They were the same one who were at Keane and they were still suffering from concert legs!

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The Scissor Sisters launched into the concert with three songs from their bizarre yet amazingly addictive new album “Magic Hour”.  “Any which way”, Keep your shoes on” and “Baby Come Home” set the high energy tone for the rest of the concert. Dressed in retro chic Ana Matronic and the backing singers looked fabulous and the psychedelic off the wall kiddies print suit, and silver track suit of Jake Shears later in the set, were as bizarre as you would expect.

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The band the ‘dusted off some old songs’ including “Kiss you Off” and “Take your Mama”, which sent the crowd crazy, and carried on with Anna and then Jake taking turns singing a wide range of songs including “Fire wth Fire” and “Skin this Cat”. One highlight was “Lets have a Kiki!” a bizarre song about an inpromtu party when a club is closed by the police. The synchronized dancing with the backing singers was amazing.

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“Mary” was followed by the awesome Pink Floyd cover “Comfortably Numb” and then the rap influenced “Shady Love”, which was mesmerizing. The dance inducing highlights – “I Don’t Feel like Dancing” and “Only the Horses” followed either side of the encore. The crowd went wild – a cliché but very apt. The band finished on  “Music is the Victim”, for which the audience were asked to remove a piece of clothing and dance for the last time with their scissor sisters! I declined, but danced my proverbial off anyway!

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After discussion with friends we thought we could have enticed the band back for a second encore, but the audience didn’t react., so it was not to be. The result being NO “Filthy Gorgeous”! I headed back and got out of Cascais easily. Drove along the marginal and arrived back just after midnight. There were still people playing football in the dark on the beaches all along the coast!  At 31OC it was amazing – a hot night for and even hotter band!  I wonder how this can be topped. Had a great time, danced manically and it was just what I needed. Keane and the Scissor Sisters have rocked 9 days of Hedonism to another level – one I never expected! Bring on Mares Vivas!

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Best Song: “I don’t feel like Dancing” tied with “Lets have a Kiki!”

Biggest Gripe: A couple who pushed to area in front of me and started dancing manically and dangerously with lit cigarettes in their hands. I eventually managed to get away from them!  The band not playing Filthy Gorgeous and the fact that it was all over too fast!

Funniest Moment: Seeing a guy with a list of names tattooed on his arm, each one crossed out with a different name underneath! Now whether this was a hit list of his targets, or a list of his boyfriends/girlfriends is another matter – but how would you feel if you were the last on the list!

Quotes from Ana Matronic

“There are so many good looking men in the audience, I want to taste you all, I bet you will all taste like custard”

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“Lets have a kiki!”

“Here’s to Portuguese Passion – and Caipirina!”

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Day 4: Balmy Night in Cascais

Day 4: Balmy Night in Cascais

ImageWell I got back from work totally knackered. The temperature was a balmy 32OC!  I picked up a colleague and headed through the rush hour traffic, which carries on quite late here, and headed west. We arrived at the Hipodromo Manuel Possolo, a small Arena with a manicured lawn, well fertilized from the recent Portuguese Open Equestrian Event, where we hooked up with other friends. They were still recovering from Optimus Alive and had a severe case of concert legs! The concert was sold out but there was plenty of room and we ended up about 15m from the front with plenty of space to dance. There was no support band which was great and Keane hit the stage running with “You are Young” a catchy upbeat number form their new album.  Many new songs alternated with old classics, as Keane continued to wow the crowd with high energy, spot on vocals in the niche that Keane have aptly found. The crowd-pleasing hits filtered in mid-set with “Everybody’s Changing” raising the set to another level. At this stage the concert moved from the “great” category to “amazing”. Tom Chapman’s mercurial understated voice fits the Keane sound well and together they produce some awesome songs.

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The rhythmic “Disconnected”  followed and the band were amazed that the crowd carried on singing after the song finished, which happened after all of the hits whih lest the lead singer speachless! These came thick and fast towards the end of the set which was brilliant. The melodic “This is the last time” was followed by the classic sing along inducing “Somewhere only we Know”.  The band the rocked the crowd with “Is it any Wonder” and finished the first part of the set with a fantastic version of the chilled out “Bedshaped”.

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The encore started with the mesmerizing “Sea Fog” accompanied only by the piano which stunned the crowd, before the up-beat “Sovereign Light Café” and the high energy “Glitterball“ finished the set. A impromptu second encore of “My Shadow”  wowed the crowd further and bought this fantastic concert to an end.

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This was much better than anything over the last three days. This talented band loved performing, gave their all and provided the best live sound track to a balmy summer night in Portugal.  They also said they are coming back on their forthcoming European and Lebanese tour later in the year – you heard it here first!! Keane are a brilliant, but really understated band.  A friend said afterwards that when he came to the concert he only knew only one song – when he left he realized he knew loads! An awesome night that has made it into my top ten concerts of all time!

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 Best Song: A tie between “Sovereign Light Café”, “Sea Fog” and “Somewhere only we know”, with probable the first winning by a nose!

Biggest Gripe: Traffic getting into Cascais

Funniest Moment:  Watching a friend try and whistle using their fingers and their excitement and joy when managing to do it!   

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Day 3: Optimus Dies – the end of the festival

 

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Day Three of Optimus Alive was always going to be about one thing – Radiohead. The park was full to capacity on a day when temperatures reached into the early thirties. I got there about 8pm after being warned there were queues, but I breezed through the gate with no problem. Met up with a friend and then headed to the main stage where Caribou were beginning. A four piece band that seemed lost on the massive stage as they all played in a tight group in the middle. Their base heavy electronica was not right for the main stage, but it was welcomed well by the growing crowd. After listening for about half an hour we headed off to get some food and play a bit of table football. We lost one of the balls when it flew off the table and got kicked into the crowd by a passer by! I was so pleased the manager of the tables did not see!

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Then it was back to Radiohead. The crowd was packed, but unusually about 15 minutes beforehand people stopped trying to push to the front and it was comfortable where we were. The optimus cowboy hats mentioned in my previous post were still a pain, but as they were only given out the night before then there were less of them! The band started with “Bloom”and then “15 Step” followed by generic Radiohead for the next 45 minutes. The visual set up was weird -12 screens at the back of the stage each one providing the view from a camera focused on a different member of the band. This was OK, but it was also repeated on the main screens to give a screen bank effect. This would have been good inside an auditorium, but for a large open air concert, where the view is limited at the best of times it was frustrating as you could not see the action on the stage. In fact the local cameras were not used at all! However, these screens were used effectively especially when used selectively on songs that started with the singer and then added instruments later.

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The sublime “Exit music for a film” got the crowd singing along and it was followed by a diverse range of their music from the slower “Lotus Flower” to the heavier and quicker “Bodysnatchers” prior to them leaving the stage. The first encore peaked with the brilliant “Paranoid Android” and “Everything in its place”, which was preceded by an excellent harmonic verse of “This one goes out to the one I love”. A second encore of “Street Spirit” left the crowd wanting more, however that was it! No “Creep” though, which was very disappointing!

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The crowds started leaving just before the end and I noticed that I was passed by a very pale looking woman, who then proceeded to faint about 5 foot behind me. She was surrounded by people so I just shone the torch on my phone so people could see to help. She was OK and after about 5 minutes recovering she got up and was helped on her way. Afterwards, I stuck around to avoid the crowds leaving but as it was still an hour before the next band was on the second stage, I decided to call it a night. Managed to negotiate the crowds to the station, got the train, and a seat, and got back at 2.30am.  

 

So Optimus Alive is over – next up Keane. Optimus was good, but promised more, especially with the cancellation of Florence and the Machine and the disappointing Stone Roses.I am still not sure I like these big festivals, but often the draw of the bands is to big not to attend!  

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Best Song: “Exit Music for a Film”

Biggest Gripe: The guy in front of me who insisted on whistling without warning throughout the concert – causing sudden pain in my right ear, and the idiot with the large Russian flag on a large pole directly in front of the stage who obscured the view for many people.  

Most Amusing Moment: Listening to an English guy on the train talking to his girlfriend. He was constantly telling her he wanted to go and get f****d up when he got back to Lisbon and have a good time. He wanted to find some cool bar with locals who would realise he was not a pratt after a few drunken minutes talking to them and would then recognized him for being a total legend that he was! There were a few minor problems with this as his girlfriend pointed out, one they only had five euros left, they had a large hill to climb afterwards, he was very drunk already and it was late on a Sunday and the bars may not be open. After some persuading, he decided that actually he was drunk and that all he wanted to do was go back to the hotel for some water. What an awesome woman!  The last time I saw him he was negotiating with a street seller for a flashing led ring!  

Day 2: Mellowed out in Alges

Day 2 of Optimus Alive was always going to be a bit different due to Florence and the Machine cancelling due to illness at the last minute. Although Morcheeba are a great band, Florence is in a different league altogether. However, I was made up as I missed them when they came to Algarve and Lisbon last year. It was obvious that some people hadn’t heard the news as I saw a few girls in Florence t-shirts. I hope they were not too disappointed. There were many more people in the park than Day 1, but it didn’t stop me bumping into friends all over the place, even in the melee trying to get to the toilets! Also, the weather was much better, yet, as in most of the coast between Lisbon and Cascais, the wind picks up considerably in the evening, which became a problem later as people got cold.

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I missed Noah and the Whale, but arrived just in time for Mumford and Sons. They had not hit my radar much but I was pleasantly surprised. Their rock-indie-folk combination set the right mood to watch the sunset go down over the mouth of the River Tejo. They settled into their set well and the music was slick and polished. The crowd was well into it which I think surprised the band and I really enjoyed it. Considering buying the album for those chilled out nights on the balcony watching the city come alive. The only complaint was that it was probably a bit mellow, however as Florence was to due follow then it was a good pick, but when followed by Morcheeba  it set the scene for a very chilled evening.

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Morcheeba were next on the main stage kicking off with the funky and apt “Down by the Sea”. Brilliant song played well and Skye Edward’s voice was like satin. I loved it. She was also the best dressed woman in the park! Jumping on those heels must have killed her! The set continued with a string of funked up songs typical of the trip hop electronic fusion that Morcheeba are well known for. One highlight was the title song of their new album “Blood like Lemonade” which was recently featured on True Blood. They had their work cut out for them, trying to replace Florence and the Machine was a hard call, but a short un-accompanied  version of “You’ve got the love” pleased the crowd before the amazing finale of “Rome wasn’t built in a day” ended a fine set. A unique chilled sound, which should have been on the bill way before Florence pulled out.

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I was a bit annoyed I missed AWOL Nation, as they were playing the same time as Morcheeba, but I caught a bit of Tricky after negotiating the mass migrations to and from the food area and toilets between sets. I now know what a wildebeest feels like on the Serengeti plains! I also did my back in sliding down the slide from Santander’s ATM viewing platform – an ATM on the third floor of a temporary building! However, it didn’t stop me dancing and after the concert I went clubbing till four. Freebie wise, Optimus was giving out cowboy hats (which were a nightmare if you were standing behind someone wearing one – bad choice from the marketers), EDP scarves and Oeiras “The Place to Party” t-shirts, which I managed to catch from the bungee jumping basket whilst it was being moved over the crowd.   

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The Cure were up next and started well, with strong tunes complementing Robert Smith’s mercurial voice. However, the wind played havoc with the smoke machine which ended up obscuring him for most of the set. The music also ended up a bit samish, with over 30 songs played.  Everyone seemed to be waiting for the hits from the 80’s which came later in the set.  

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Best Song: “Down by the Sea” – Morcheeba

Biggest Gripe:  Two Spanish guys next to me talking so loud that you couldn’t hear the concert, and that damn smoke machine during The Cure!

Most amusing moment:  Watching the reactions of the people around me when a guy dressed as Marilyn Monroe (the rough version – after a good night out) maneuvered through the crowd.

So Day 2 was mellow marked by an Islamic moon – up next –  Radiohead, which should be good.

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9 Days, 9 Conce…

Aside

9 Days, 9 Concerts has begun.

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Day 1: At 6pm Friday I left work and headed to the concert site by train with a colleague. There was the usual scrum to get train tickets – massive queues and the ticket machines at Cais do Sodre never work under pressure! However, I had endured the tourist scrum to Cascais and the beach earlier in the week and already had mine, so we breezed through the station. The train was not over full – I was expecting a massive crush, but we got seat on the train easily. Getting in was fine and exchanging tickets for the usual wristband was quick and easy, which was not the case later judging by the massive elongated queues. Why people queue for so long amazes me when later in the evening the booths were deserted. The weather took a massive turn as well. Hot and cloudless in the city. Overcast, cool windy and threatening rain 20 minutes later in Alges! The crowds were very mixed, lots of Irish to see Snow Patrol, British who couldn’t get tickets to see The Stone Roses at Heaton Park (some still had baggage tickets on their bags), and kids there to see LMFAO.

First up, the Dum Dum Girls. A four piece band from California. Interesting sound – a cross between the Ramones and a much heavier Belinda Carlisle. Some good songs  from the monotonic “Mine Tonight” to the  psychedelic “He gets me high” and the melancholic “Hold your hand”.   The set was on the second stage and unfortunately the noise level was a little too high, the base far too high and the feedback at the beginning and end of the songs was excruciating. This was completely avoidable and unnecessary and detracted from what was a good set. I don’t know if this is because the stage was enclosed in a large hanger or technical issues. By song 5 this had been fixed to an extent and the quality became much better, but not ideal. Overall, the set was good and enjoyable.

ImageI then checked out the main stage, however the hard rock of Refused, or the Portuguese indie rock of Miuda on the second stage was not my cup of tea, so I decided to explore the venue. One friend won a massage from one of the sponsors – which he gave to me for use later and we grabbed some food and drink. By this time the queues to swap ticket for wristbands were huge!

ImageSnow Patrol were up next. I felt a little bit sorry for them. Up against LMFAO on the second stage most of the audience was torn between the two. Awesome lighting and great intro, followed by classic Snow Patrol. Stayed until “Run” which was awesome. That song always makes the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. It was great to eventually hear it live. We were to the left of the stage in front of the second row of speakers in the middle of the field and there was loads of space. However, I want to know why I always get the tallest people stand directly in front of me!

After “Run” we headed over to join the set of LMFAO. I felt sorry for Snow Patrol because many people did the same and there was a mass migration between stages. Missed the first 15 minutes but soon got dancing to the manic pop disco beat.  High energy, crowd pleasing and pure fun. Those guys rocked and raised the crowd up to frenetic level. The inflatable shop did well, with beach balls, life size zebra’s and palm trees being thrown into the crowd by the dancers. The music contained crowd pleasing samples from the Beastie Boys to the Black Eyed Peas and energy levels were raised higher and higher until the set finished with “Shots”. Two encores of firstly “Party Rocking” and “Champagne Showers” and finally “Sexy and I know it” sent the crowd crazy and were amazing. Been waiting to see LMFAO for six months after they moved their Lisbon concert from TMN Ao Vivo to the Coliseu dos Recreios and I couldn’t make the new date. I was not disappointed and I lost it big time!

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Then it was back to the main stage for The Stone Roses. I was never totally into the “Madchester” scene, but it was a major part of the music I listened to at university, as all my mates were into it. Was expecting a lot and was let down. The music was good but the energy was lost somewhat in the, to me,  disappointing vocals. I can’t put my finger on why but the set didn’t seem to gel and, except for the diehard fans, many people around us seemed to begin to lose interest. I may be called a philistine but I don’t buy into the hype.  “Waterfall” raised the bar somewhat, but I didn’t stay until the end of the set, which is really unusual for me.

ImageBuraka som Sistema, a Portuguese band mixing hard house with african beats, bought their unique brand of music to the second stage and drove the crowd wild. I was filmed dancing manically, so where that will end up is anyone’s guess! Justice then bought the main stage to a close with their French, heavy, electronic beats.

As I left I was jumped by colleague from work and hit on the back of the head by, bizarrely, a bag of sweets!  They had come a lot later and were off to eat, so I left them to it.

Overall a very good start to the 9 days!

Biggest gripe: The queues for the bar. Heineken get it sorted!

Most amusing thing: watching a drunk Captain America dance with the someone dressed as the Box Man from LMFAO!

Best song: Tie between “Sexy and I know it”, LMFAO  and “Run” Snow Patrol

Top tips:  exchange your tickets for wristbands early or late to avoid the queues. Get tickets for the train before the day of the concert.