Portugal loves his melancholic voice and piano, and he loves coming here to play, wander the streets and surf.
“Ahhh Lisbon,” we read on his Instagram, alongside pictures of an iconic bar in the Príncipe Real neighbourhood, where patrons can eat and smoke until the early hours. “Who wants to live to a hundred?” he smiles, lighting a cigarette and reclining on a hotel terrace the following day. Intelligent blue eyes, unkempt hair, kindness and irony intact. When he first came to Lisbon, he discovered his primordial idea of Europe: “Finally! Italy also has this curious ancient romanticism; but here the city has just the right amount of deterioration, not too clean, not too dirty. If you painted the city a little more or less, you’d ruin it. It’s exactly the way it should be. It inherited the melancholic Portuguese soul, which I really love. When I walk around here, I always think: Ah, I love this place”. Patrick likes walking around alone at dawn, through the old streets. “Listening to the sound of the water, it’s like the city is singing. The buildings are beautiful. It has a real mood. And the people are very welcoming! Those who brought us here the first time are still the same. I’m really happy when I see them. This place and I have something in common. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world.”
The feeling’s mutual. We love his deep, nocturnal, luminous, ethereal voice and piano. He’s played here “many times.” The first was a decade ago, in Aula Magna: “There were 800 people and they knew the songs! We were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ It was mad, I couldn’t believe it!”. He remembered then that, when he was a kid, he “absolutely loved” the Portuguese band Madredeus, after discovering them in Wim Wenders’ film Lisbon Story and “listening to them on a loop”. From then on, “all the concerts in Lisbon have been special”, and they invariably end with the audience on their feet and him in the middle, in absolute communion: “Singing is the moment, not me”. Once, there was a memorable incident at the Coliseu concert hall. “This is embarrassing! We decided to sing a song on one of the balconies and a girl wanted to climb up it. I shouted, ‘Please don’t kill yourself, please. Show up after the concert!’” He’s travelled around Portugal a little: “Porto is a fantastic city. It’s ridiculously romantic, to the point that you think, ‘oh my God, I’m going to fall in love with my bass player by accident!’” He also has good things to say about “that city with long gardens and a church” (Guimarães), as well as Coimbra and Nazaré. “I like surfing. I always ask to go to the sea”, although he hasn’t seen “those crazy waves”. Once, in Costa da Caparica, the sea was huge, “I mean, for what I can do [laughs], but they must have thought I was good and gave me a small board. I thought, ‘Hmm, now I’ve got to do this…’ Needless to say, I got my ass kicked!”
Patrick will perform at Lisbon’s Coliseu on 23rd February and on the following day at Casa da Música in Porto, playing songs from his latest album, Wave. The record talks about the feeling of being inside a wave: “Everybody knows, the Portuguese even more so, that when it’s big, the best thing is not to fight it. The album is about that moment when you know the best thing is to adapt and relax; when you let yourself go, you yield, but don’t give up. It’s like trust. That’s why the album turned out very smooth, profound and humble. It’s the moment when you give in and suddenly everything becomes so honest that it feels good. Even if it’s not what you want to hear, even if you don’t know what’s coming next”. While he was preparing these songs that speak about “the times you have to sing a love song to yourself, because nobody else will”, Patrick Watson lost his mother, his girlfriend and his long-time drummer. At the same time, “we look at the world as it has been until now and it’s impossible to continue living like this. We’re in a kind of Walt Disney world and there are terrible things happening around us. But hard times also means working together and incredible things. You just have to accept the path, instead of always fighting it”. He says he met a wonderful person on a beach, “We lay down next to one another. It was a feeling of great sincerity. One of being able to tell another person: this is what I am. It was the most intimate and honest thing I’ve ever experienced. Much better than sex”.
by Patrícia Barnabé /// photo Ilenia Tesoro
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