Portishead bloody fantastic at brixton academy

This was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.  Awe-inspiring, innovative, spellbinding. 

The air of excitement beforehand was palpable and Portishead came on to a rapturous welcome.  I suspect, like me and my friends, the crowd consisted of a lot of people who thought they might never get a chance to see Portishead live and were now beside themselves with excitement.  They started strong and kept it coming.  The set-list (I totally can’t remember what order or anything, sorry) comprised mainly of tracks from Dummy and new material from the about-to-be-released Third.  Both sounded wonderful.  Personally, I thought the new stuff sounded incredibly strong and exciting – with a more industrial edge to it. 

Beth’s voice sounded fantastic – all creepy, uncanny emotion.  She is a weird, alien, techno-futuristic songstress, and that is a fact.  And the cinematic feel remains, only they now appear to have written a soundtrack for a horror sci-fi.   The visuals were spot-on.  They focussed mainly on Beth, with lots of great effects (sorry, I don’t know the terms for any of them), intercut with close ups of the band members playing their instruments (most effective on Machine Gun where there were loads of closeups of the truly fucking magnificent electronic drum playing).  Beth apologised shyly at the end for ‘singing really badly’.  Ok, so i’m pretty sure that she sang the entire ‘Numb’ a note out (didn’t matter, still sounded great), but I don’t think anyone in the crowd was complaining.  

The band all looked pretty moved by the response they got from the crowd, and a band being moved always makes me feel moved (i’m soft that way).   (Digression: I remember Damon Albarn looking as though he would like to burst into tears at the end of a very well-recieved set by Blur at Glastonbury back in the early 1990’s.  And recently the singer of The National was so moved by the audience response that he climbed on top of his monitor only to wobble horrendously and have to be helped down again, saying afterwards with self-deprecating charm ‘as soon as i got up there i thought ‘what the fuck are you doing?’).

The only bum note of this gig was that people kept talking.  I don’t understand this behaviour.  I don’t mean just the odd comment to your pal, I mean literally talking throughout.  I was standing next to two men who TALKED about music all night instead of LISTENING to the music actually being played right in front of them.  They were like a bad stereotype from High Fidelity – endless intellectualising ‘oh i like what they just did there, it reminds me of ………. in 1987’ – with the view presumably being to impress the other male with the size of your, ahem, musical knowledge.  I have no problem whatsoever with talking about music, BUT NOT WHILE PORTISHEAD ARE FUCKING PLAYING YOU STUPID FUCKING BASTARDS.  

Went in with the drumbeat from Machine Gun in my head.  Came out with it in my head even worse.  I might never get it out.

Boom cha

Ba da Ba da Ba da Ba da

Boom cha

digga digga digga digga 



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One Response to “Portishead bloody fantastic at brixton academy”

  1. stoibee Says:

    I’m going to see them, possibly twice, in Barcelona at the end of May. After reading this it seems too long to wait! I always thought people were too harsh on “Dummy” just because it popped up on “This Life” one time – I certainly never went to any dinner party where it was used as a soundtrack. They seem to have kept the new album well under wraps – maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. Nice blog – check out mine – more ranting and rambling than “music”…

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