Trips across the ocean to catch Irish acts are rare for Goldenplec, but this time around we were invited over by the organisers of the Lisboa Festival because they were trying something new and have supporting Irish music at their heart, something that resonates hugely with us. We were treated to a tour of Lisbon, which is a beautiful city and got to taste some of the local delicacies and see some of the historic landmarks around Lisbon. I certainly will be returning for a non-musical adventure.
Taking place on Saturday 9th March in the LX Factory in Lisboa, the Lisboa Irish Festival put the focus on bringing five great live Irish acts to the city, an introduction, if you will, to Irish artists. The venue itself is big like an airport hanger, but maybe a little smaller than that. It’s capacity looked about 3,000-5,000 if it was full and with Irish flags in places around the venue, and food being served at the back including baked potato, Irish stew and more – they went to a lot of effort to make it feel like a slice of Ireland.
There is little mention required with the acts involved this year, Ghost Estates have grown in popularity quickly and it’s easy to see why. They might not be playing to the biggest crowd but their music translates. We later see Portuguese fans clinging to their newly bought Ghost Estates EP. Proof if it was needed that impact was made. Ham Sandwich followed with a setlist of hits and in particular a gorgeous new track called ‘Square Tree‘ mixed in among hits like Click Click Boom, Words, a dance-inducing version of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love‘ and finishing with the stunning trio of Models, The Naturist and Ants. Podge’s Portugeezers were well and truly entertained
Wallis Bird drew the biggest crowd of the night, even though it was her first trip to Portugal. The crowd swelled to its largest point in the night as Wallis tore through her back catalogue. Sweat dripping as she gave her guitar the most thorough of examinations, with the strings somehow holding up to the demand. Clapping and singing and dancing, Lisbon instantly took to our Wallis and when someone plays with as much heart as these live acts, you couldn’t blame them. She finished with a new vocal led track called Hammering which was phenomenally powerful and Irish. Le Galaxie tore through an hour-long set that even gave us a glimpse of some new material, which sounded brilliant. The venue suited Le Galaxie the most as they sounded sharp and fierce and the crowd found their dancing feet. Michael leading the pack with slick moves showcasing his comfort in the front man role. We’ve said it many times on this site that Le Galaxie are unreal live, but now it’s been translated to Portuguese. As they leave the stage to Jurassic Park theme song, who isn’t smiling.
Generic People round-up the night with a showcase of visuals and electronic dance music that despite not being this reviewers preferred genre of music, was accessible and fun and they continued late into the night, keeping Lisboa dancing till the wee hours. A truly cracking Saturday nights entertainment from some of Ireland’s strongest live assets.
Having spoken to the organisers, they seem to be plotting to take this type of show to Germany before the end of the year and come back to Lisbon and two other Portuguese cities next year. It’s a plan that excites us, taking Irish music abroad and putting a huge focus on it. The turnout on the night was lower than expected, which means perhaps the event was not profitable. We would encourage anyone with Irish music in their hearts, including sponsors who didn’t gamble any hard cash on the event, get involved properly for the next event. The organisers are putting their hard-earned cash on the line to promote Irish music solely abroad, with no international distraction. This should be applauded and supported, the acts certainly proved why it’s worth doing.
Lisboa Irish Festival Photo Gallery
Photos: Luís Martins