16 July 2018 (gig)
18 July 2018
Before NOS alive 2018 kicked off you could have been mistaken that nothing really mattered apart from ‘footballs coming home’ but on the eve of the festival those dreams were gone and what better way than to cure the blues than dancing all night at one of Europe’s best festivals.
Where some UK festivals seem happy to recycle the same old line up each year NOS always seem to attract the big names year after year. Add into the mix some sunshine, cold beer and live bands until 4am you are sure to have the best 3 days of your summer in the Portuguese capital.
Things kicked off on the Thursday evening as the sun slowly started to go down over Lisbon, to get the ball rolling Roxy Music legend Bryan Ferry takes to the main stage. The smooth 72 year old takes a while to get into his rhythm but towards the end of set the crowd start to enjoy themselves as he plays ‘Love is the drug’ and as proceedings finish on ‘let’s stick together’ it’s hard to resist the first singalong of the festival.
Next up it’s a short walk over to the Palco Sagres stage, the second biggest on the site for Wolf Alice who last played the same tent in 2016 and since then have released album number two ‘Visions of a Life’. The London band have come a long way since then, recently supporting the likes of Foo Fighters and Liam Gallagher. Set opener ‘your loves Whore’ sets the tone perfectly, grungy sounding rifts and the voice of lead singer Ellie Rowsell are the perfect match. Mid set the tempo goes down a bit for the softer sounding ‘Don’t delete the kisses’ with the crowd singing back every word. Guitars turned back up the set closes on ‘Moaning Lisa smile’ and ‘Giant Peach’. I’m sure it won’t be long before Wolf Alice are back at Nos doing their thing on the main stage.
Staying in the Palco Sagres tent next up is Friendly Fires a band who haven’t been seen for a long time (2012 was the last tour) but it’s good to have them back, cow bell and all. No time is wasted getting the crowd dancing as old favourites Lovesick, Jump in the pool and Skeleton Boy are all thrown at us. Ed Macfarlane might not have been on stage for a few years but nothing has slowed down his dance moves, Shakira would be doing well to keep up with the hip shaking on display. But it’s not all nostalgic tunes there is room for new song ‘Love like waves’ which fits seamlessly into the set.
Back over to the main stage and this time it’s the return of Snow Patrol another band who disappeared for what seemed like an eternity. If mass singalongs and holding your loved one are you thing then few bands do it better. Frontman Gary Lightbody has the crowd in his hand with heartfelt versions of open your eyes and Chasing Cars. There room for new tracks from the 2018 album wildness including ‘Don’t give in’ and set closer ‘Just say yes’.
As Thursday night became Friday morning it’s time for Sheffield’s finest Arctic Monkeys to arrive on stage, just after midnight armed with the much talked about new album Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino – Apparently it’s a luxury resort based on the moon. Alex Turner takes to the microphone with slicked back hair, beige suit and sunglasses making him look like a 1970’s nightclub owner in Miami and goes straight into newly released single 4 out of 5. Their reinvention doesn’t have seem to have slowed them down at all, Turner looking more comfortable on stage than ever. Old favourites are played with a fresher sound ‘Brainstorm’ ‘The view from the afternoon’ both pleasing the large crowd but as the evening rolls on and a few more newer songs are aired you can’t help but think the masses just want a good chorus to chant along at 2 in the morning. The Encore starter ‘Star Treatment’ slows things down even more so, set closer R U Mine does end things on a high but over all its been a mixed set, the resort up in space might get 4 out of 5 but tonight’s performance is just shy of that.
Friday evening kicks off with San Francisco’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, slicked back hair, leather jacket and shades the trio set the tone for the evening ahead. Early on in the set there’s the moody sound of ‘Beat the Devils Tattoo’ and the bluesy ‘Ain’t No Easy Way’ which kind of makes you want to pick up nearest bottle of whiskey and have a swig. The guys rampage through their set thanking the Portuguese crowd for making them feel at home due to being in Lisbon the past week before finishing on ‘Whatever happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Next up on the second stage is American indie band Portugal the Man, it’s been over ten years since their first album but the band are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The feel good hit of 2018 has to be ‘Feel it Still’ which they close the packed out tent with.
Day two headline act is the US rock heavy weights Queens of the Stone Age starting the set with the moody ‘Feet don’t Fail Me’ before blasting into ‘The way you Used to Do’. Usually singer Josh Homme isn’t short of a few words between songs but this evening the chat is kept short instead opting to rattle through edgy guitar riffs as the band turn the Lisbon night sky a hot tempered shade of red as the play ‘Go with the Flow’. Homme then thanks the crowd telling them ‘this ain’t goodbye it’s just fucking good night’.
Back over to the second stage and as 1am approaches it’s the turn of North Carolina’s Future Islands to continue the party at Nos Alive! Just when we thought Friendly Fire has given us the best dance moves of the festival up steps lead singer Samuel Herring like a man possessed there is belly growls, sliding across the stage and the best dad dance moves you’ll see anywhere but all mixed with a beautiful soulful voice and the on looking crowd love it from the first note. The biggest cheer is for ‘Seasons (Waiting on You)’ a synth pop gem already, Herring continually fist pumps his chest throughout.
As the Night draws to a close Two Door Cinema take to the main stage cue infectious indie pop rhythms and singalongs. The Bangor boys have come a long way since releasing ‘Tourist History’ back in 2010 and do not look out of place in front of a huge crowd on foreign soil.
Onto the final day and entering the festival site based next to the river Tagus in the Algés area of Lisbon is a different atmosphere compared to the first two days. The main stage area is buzzing and bars are busy by 6pm, this is down to one band…. Tonight’s headliner Pearl Jam and it appears Portugal have adopted them as one of their own.
To get the crowd warmed up its over to Scottish indie darlings Franz Ferdinand, the Glasgow band know what they are good at and don’t shy away from it. ‘Do you want to’ is played first and the mass crowd clearly plan to dance the night away. Lead singer Alex Kapranos dedicates ‘Michael’ to all the beautiful bands that are on the line-up over the weekend. As the set comes to an end there’s time for indie anthem ‘Take Me Out’ followed by a rowdy ‘This Fire’.
As night falls over the festival it’s time for Jack White to take to the main stage, this time the crowd seem a little more subdued despite firing off ‘Lazaretto’ and ‘Hotel Yorba’ early. The low key single ‘Love Interruption’ is a slower, darker side of 2012’s Blunderbuss album but sounds blissful under the night sky. The set finally picks up the pace at the end due to ‘Seven Nation Army’ the on lookers now in full voice.
A quick walk over to the third biggest stage at the festival ‘Palco NOS Clubbing’ for English synth pop duo Monarchy, a small but lively crowd greet them and towards the end there is a synth version of ‘smells like teen spirit’ which strangely sounds pretty good or it might just have been the excitement of the next band getting to me.
Pearl Jam take to the main stage, Eddie Vedder brings with him his full iconic voice and there is no signs of the problem that caused him to cancel a London show during June after he ‘completely lost his voice’. Even if he had lost it with 60,000 fans waiting to sing every word back to him you’d have never of known. With hands raised in the air Lisbon sing every word back to their heroes as the band play a greatest hits show including ‘Even flow’, ‘Daughter’ and ‘Jeremy’. As the Encore kicks in Pearl Jam turn themselves into the most surreal covers band as there’s a nod to John & Yoko before playing a heartfelt ‘Imagine’, there’s also room for ‘Comfortably Numb’ and then the biggest mass singalong of the weekend goes to ‘Alive’. The special night is wrapped up with a version of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ as Jack White comes back out to help on guitar.
So if sunshine, friendly people, some of the world’s biggest & up and coming bands are your cuppa tea then Nos Alive 2019 really should be on your ‘to do list’.