Just after Tronik
Youth's marvellous remix of Joy Division's 'She's Lost Control' faded away (which to my ears seems to have influenced Portishead's
new single 'Machine Gun')Portishead
took to the stage. They haven't released an album since 1997's 'Portishead
' so news of a tour and a third album 'Third', to be released at the end of the month, has revitalised the interest in the band. Portishead
have always been hard to categorise. Indie kids (and Indie adults) love them and they are the dance crowds favourite chill-out band. Their music is dark, moody and atmospheric and uses samples and programming and Adrian Utley's
amazing guitar work. However it has always been Beth Gibbons vocals that have given the band such a distinctive sound.
Right form the first few bars of the first song it was clear that Portishead
were going to be special tonight and although a few technical problems with the dj's
decks forced them to leave the stage for about five minutes after 'Mysterons
' they delivered in spades. The new songs are noticeably
harder than the moody trip-hop of 'Dummy'. Eighties style synth
sounds and percussion have given them a more industrial sound. The overall mood is still dark though and Beth Gibbons pours out emotion in her vocals. She has an amazing ability to sound like several different singers in one song. At times she sounds like Billie Holiday and at one stage during an amazing rendition of 'Wandering Star' she sounded like Edith Piaf. The new material bodes well for the new album but it was the material that they played from 'Dummy' that got the crowd going. 'Roads', 'Glory Box' and 'Sour Times' along with the aforementioned 'Mysterons
' (with added Mysteron
lights Captain Scarlett fans) and 'Wandering Star' were perfect. The gig closed with Beth jumping down into the pit to hug, kiss and shake hands with the front rows of the stalls. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. It was a fantastic night and well worth waiting 13 years for.