16 July, 2015

From Alt-J to Azealia Banks: Who Stole The Show at NOS Alive

It was The Prodigy’s Maxim shouting “All my fucking people here in Lisbon, all my Prodigy people” which created a swirl of euphoria amongst the NOS Alive crowd on Friday night. The day two headliners provided the highlight of the weekend and took years off their 25 year spanning career with tracks such as ‘Omen’, ‘Firestarter’ and ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.

MC Maxim paraded the stage, screaming and flicking his tongue at a bouncing crowd as the band played seven tracks from their new album, ‘The Day Is My Enemy’. It was the 21 year-old ‘Voodoo People’ though that sent the audience into hysteria as drummer Liam Howlett thrashed the drums with revived lunacy.

Muse close the first night of NOS Alive, streamers 'n' all.
Before them, Mumford and Sons had taken to the stage, opening up with their sinister new Ben Howard-esque track ‘Snake Eyes’. The band, who ditched the waistcoats for a much smarter, all black look, opted for electric guitars over banjos in light of their stadium-filling new album ‘Wilder Mind’. There was room though for the likes of ‘The Cave’, ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ and a thrashing ‘Dust Bowl Dance’ from debut album ‘Sigh No More’. 

Keyboard player Ben Lovett explained their “fond memories” of the festival before singer Marcus Mumford took to the drums for a symbol crashing version of ‘Lover Of The Light’. The intensity ebbed and flowed throughout the set, ending with singalong favourite ‘Little Lion Man’ and latest pop-rock infused track ‘The Wolf’.

The day before, the festival opened on the Palco NOS Stage with The Wombats and James Bay, who was greeted by a sea of white hats and a sign reading “James please give me your hat”. He toyed with the crowd, getting them to sing back to him before ending on a energetic performance of ‘Hold Back The River’. 

Alt-J light up the stage with one of the standout sets of the weekend.
 Later on the Thursday night, Alt-J gathered one of the biggest crowds of the weekend as they fused old tracks with new songs such as ‘Hunger of the Pine’ ‘Every Other Freckle’ and ‘Left Hand Free’ from second album ‘This Is All Yours’. Earlier track, ‘Something Good’ presented an epileptic onslaught of scribbles on screen and ‘Fitzpleasure’ brought about a clattering of lights. The band sounded as crisp live as they do on record from Joe Newman’s twisting vocals in ‘Matilda’ to the deflated bag pipe, bhangra fluttering ‘Taro’. 

Muse followed the band over ten years their junior to headline the first night following the recent release of seventh studio album ‘Drones’. The trio played an EDM inspired ‘Dead Inside’ and ‘Mercy’ from the new album but also delved into older tracks such as ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Time Is Running Out’, finishing on ‘Knights of Cydonia’ with singer Matt Bellamy parading around the stage, draped in a Portuguese flag whilst big bouncing balls and streamers adorned the crowd. 

Scottish trio, Young Fathers give an intense show.
The same day also boasted sets from the entrancing Young Fathers and party starters Metronomy
on the Palco Heineken Stage. The electro-pop Londoners filled the over-capacitated tent with their up-beat catalogue, featuring the glitchy ‘Reservoir’, ‘I’m Aquarius’ and ‘Love Letters’ from the same titled 2014 album. Singer Joe Mount was on top form hopping between synth and bongo drums whilst sporting an even thicker, yes thicker, bundle of hair.

Unlike most British festivals, Saturday was the final day for the Portuguese faithful, who were treated to Sam Smith on the main stage. The ever-rising popstar showed off his vocals and got the crowd singing along to ‘I’m Not The Only One’ before dedicating his back to back covers of ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ to Amy Winehouse. Smith explained how his next song was about someone he had been in the studio with who was “making music for money”, before launching into ‘Money On My Mind’. The singer also did his own slowed down version of ‘Latch’ which he worked on with Disclosure.

19 year-old Raury performs one of the rawest sets of the weekend.
Elsewhere, whilst Azealia Banks was getting rowdy on the Heineken Stage American singer and voice of the people, Raury took to the tiny Raw Coreto Stage to a crowd of dedicated fans who knew all the words to his hit ‘God’s Whisper’. In a few years he could well be playing the main stage, which is where people flocked for a last gasp of Disclosure before the end of the festival. The Lawrence brothers provided a mammoth lights and visuals show whilst showcasing new material from upcoming second album, ‘Caracal’. Infamous for their guests vocalists, the pair were joined by Kwabs for new track ‘Willing and Able’ but no Sam Smith was to be present for their ending song, ‘Latch’.

Musically NOS Alive had it all, and that’s not to mention the ability to remain dry and provide reasonably priced food and drink. It was a weekend of returning heroes and new beloved idols. Here’s our favourite quotes from some of them:

The Wombats
“The next song’s called ‘The English Summer’ which is pretty much the same as a Portuguese summer but with no sun.”

Mumford and Sons
“The only two words I know in Portuguese are Cristiano Ronaldo.”

The Prodigy
“This one’s yours, it’s even for the fucking security.”