In partnership with MEO Kalorama
“I’ll be up there in a minute,” Nick Cave tells his band The Bad Seeds as he stands inches away from the crowd at Lisbon’s MEO Kalorama festival. “It’s too much fucking fun down here.” For the legendary singer’s headline performance, stairs have been built from the stage to carry Cave all the way down to the audience, where he parades along a narrow platform on the barrier. If the frontman could get any closer to the crowd, he would be in it.
With fans is where Cave spends most of the show, either sprawling over them as they clutch his legs to keep him upright, or singing right above their heads, sometimes asking someone to hold the microphone while he takes a breather. The electrifying ‘Get Ready For Love’ marks the start of a set that lasts nearly two and a half hours, the longest of the weekend.
The spirited ‘There She Goes My Beautiful World’ follows, before Cave dedicates the soulful ‘O Children’ to a fan who tells him it’s her birthday. He harshly cuts through every vowel on the hysterical ‘From Her to Eternity’, wailing a frenzied “cry, cry, cry” like he’s throwing a tantrum. The singer’s ad-libbed growls and roars are near feral, as Cave again proves himself to be a master storyteller, one that is capable of conjuring a visceral audience response. ‘Jubilee Street’ offers a change of pace, as the sombre melody carries Cave to a soul-baring crescendo.
Gentle numbers like ‘Bright Horses’ and ‘I Need You’ command a similar hold on the crowd, sung with such beautiful intensity by a man whose own trauma can take him to the furthest plains of human emotion. Peaky Blinders theme song ‘Red Right Hand’ later receives a huge response as the park is bathed in an intense red light. ‘Into My Arms’ opens a beautiful encore, before Cave conducts a reverent crowd wave for ‘Ghosteen Speaks’. On the last date of his European summer tour, it’s hard to believe that Cave can perform with this much energy night after night.
Minutes before Cave kicks off his set, fans have their eyes glued to the maximalist Canadian electro punk artist Peaches. “It’s not time to be a voyeur,” the singer says as she clambers over the crowd, urging them to put phones away to help her crowd surf. She screams through ‘Rock Show’ and throws her body around to the dirty beats of ‘Keine Melodien’. Outfit changes range from booty shorts to a leotard that reads: ‘Thank god for abortion’. She later wears a huge Rapunzel wig, telling the crowd that “this is my diva moment”. Fan favourite ‘Fuck the Pain Away’ closes the set as the stage erupts into sensual chaos while the singer lunges into a split.
Disclosure throw a huge afterparty in the early hours of the morning, as thunderling basslines reverberate around the park for ‘White Noise’ and ‘Holding On’, while ‘Waterfall’ lets the crowd have a final sing along too. “How we feeling tonight Lisbon?” the duo ask, being especially talkative during today’s set, also telling the crowd to get down to the ground before a massive drop, and to “light up this place” with their phone torches. The airtight ‘When a Fire Starts to Burn’ is a scorching summer highlight, before they finally relent with ‘Latch’ and the colourful ‘Tondo’.
At the end of day three, it feels a little surreal to be able to yo-yo between such opposite ends of the musical spectrum. But this has been one of MEO Kalorama’s most unique qualities: wild discos and bass-heavy raves are followed by a dash down the hill to indie-rock sessions. Similarly, showcases of Portuguese talent like bluesy rocker The Legendary Tigerman and Porto band Ornatos Violeta offers a glimpse into the rich local music scene.
Looking back at the size of the talent that stopped by MEO Kalorama across the past three days, NME is feeling a little spoiled that these might be some of the most intimate festival slots these artists have played all year. As far as end of summer parties go, MEO Kalorama has made it all the harder to bid farewell to that special festival magic.