Sweet Sugababes and perky Peas

THOUSANDS of partygoers recently basked in the Lisbon summer heat with an ice pop or two as chart stars such as the Sugar Babes, Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas took to the stage during the second weekend of Lisbon’s first Rock in Rio-Lisboa festival. The Resident reporter, Nikki Hall, was there.

About 1,000 police and security guards monitored the 200,000-sqm ‘City of Rock’ in Lisbon’s Belavista park. Visitors to the event were subjected to thorough security checks and potentially dangerous objects, such as bottle tops, were confiscated. “If someonethrew a full bottle of water into the crowd, it could cause a serious injury, even brain damage,” one of the policemen explained.

People of all ages and regions joined 500 metre queues in an attempt to see one of the biggest music festivals ever to hit Portugal. Although some didn’t make it in, those who did thoroughly enjoyed it.

The show kicked off with a sweet performance by the Sugababes, who sang their greatest hits live, including their all-time greatest song, Too Lost in You, which had everybody in tears. This was no big stage production: just the three girls, a live band and original talent.

However, the Britney Spears hype failed to impress. The crowd jumped up and down when the soundtrack to recent hit Toxic played, but the applause quickly died down when they recognised that the ‘Queen of Pop’ was singing to playback. Not only was she the only artist not to sing live, she also managed only a pale imitation of Madonna’s Blonde Ambition Tour, when she stripped down on a bed and enjoyed a full snog fest with one of her dancers.

US rappers Black Eyed Peas on the other hand, performed brilliantly. They closed the World Stage that night and it sure ended with a bang. It began with an incredible rap, which got the crowd hip-hopping along to the beat, before lead female singer Fergie came on stage belting out incredible high notes.

Apart from the live performances from the biggest names in the universe, the rest of the ‘Rock Site’ had a little bit of something to suit everyone. Sic Radical had a live TV programme, which included interviews with the crowd and there was a huge escalator so that partygoers could glide across the World Stage.

Despite the huge investment in the festival infrastructure and the presence of stars such as Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel, the event has drawn less than half of the expected numbers to Lisbon. Organisers had revised their forecast to 300,000 visitors down from an initial figure of 600,000. However, the man behind the event, Roberto Medina, has already confirmed that Rock in Rio-Lisboa will return in 2006, and claims that, next time, it will be bigger than ever.