Slumming it on an English farm might be many people’s idea of a perfect summer festival, but for others there are the more exotic (and almost entirely rain-free) surroundings of Lisbon and Nos Alive. A relatively new addition to the European circuit, the festival debuted in 2008 – then known as Optimus Alive – with Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Beastie Boys topping the bill. It was a great start and from there the event has gone from strength to strength, always managing to attract an eclectic group of A-listers who seem to revel in the sun-kissed surroundings. Here’s six to look out for this year.
The success of Alt-J’s second album ‘This Is All Yours’ confirmed the band as one of the biggest indie acts in the world right now, and they’ve spent much of their time since its September release crafting an appropriate large scale live show (as those who caught their sold out show London’s O2 arena earlier this year can attest to). Expect the biggest crowd pleasers to be the mass sing-along of ‘Breezeblocks’ and rickety single ‘Left Hand Free’, which, ironically, has been described by the band as “the least Alt-J song ever”.
Singer-songwriter James Blake brings his haunting brand of soulful electronica to Nos Alive, and his quivering vocals, introspective lyrics and skittering electronica should prove the perfect counterpoint to the weekend’s more muscular acts. Expect the set to lean heavily on Londoner’s two full length LPs – his self-titled 2011 debut and, particularly, the 2013 Mercury Prize winning ‘Overgrown’ – while he’s also been known to squeeze covers of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’ and Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’ into his setlist too.
Despite her reputation for becoming easily ensnared in social media beefs and verbally attacking just above every one of her contemporaries, nothing has skewered Azealia banks rise as an artist. Her debut studio album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ was an absolute melting pot of ideas, pulling in strands of electro pop, UK garage, deep house and trap music into a single, unified sound. If you’re one of those punters who only shows up for ‘212’, the quick-witted 2011 banger that signaled Banks’s arrival, then A: You’re doing it wrong, and B: She usually plays it last.
The Jesus & Mary Chain
The Jesus & Mary Chain’s seminal classic album ‘Psychocandy’ turns 30 this year and to mark the occasion the East Kilbrade noise pop group have been touring the album in its entirety. So expect the record and tracks like ‘You Trip Me Up’, ‘Never Understand’ and ‘Just Like Honey’ (when those drums kick in, is there anywhere else in Portugal you’d rather be?) to make up a huge bulk of their Nos Alive set, with other vintage classics like ‘April Skies’ and ‘Some Candy Talking’ thrown in for good measure.
Mogwai weren’t too bothered when their set clashed with “shite” headliners Metallica at Glastonbury last year. When the veteran post-rockers are at full tilt there aren’t too many other bands that can match their raw power, ensuring Lisbon festival goers will be shaken out of any sun-drenched slumber they might well sink into. Though you can expect the set to get real loud, the thunderous noise never crushes the nuanced eccentricities of tracks like ‘Hunted By A Freak’ or ‘2 Rights Make 1 Wrong’, demanding listeners are at full attention to soak in a group who have been one of the UK’s best live acts for years now.
“‘Overpowered’ didn’t make me a pop star and nobody quite knows why,” Roisin Murphy told The Big Issue earlier this year. Indeed, the former Moloko frontwoman’s 2007 album was a glamtastic set of electro pop belters that should have seen her beat Gaga to the punch (“Lady Gaga is just a poor imitation of me. She has copied my style,” she later told Idolater). Returning this year from a lengthy recording absence with new album ‘Hairless Toys’, Murphy’s sound has moved to a quieter, more personable ethos, though not without that seventies glitter and gold sprinkled on top.