Portishead Last Night at The Shrine Auditorium

Oct. 18, 2011
The Shrine Auditorium

Although Geoff Barrow has claimed in interviews that Portishead generally doesn't enjoy playing live, their performance last night at the Shrine Auditorium sure proved otherwise. The trip-hop pioneers did an outstanding job at capturing the melodic, dark and hypnotic feel of their records, and bringing them to life. Frontwoman Beth Gibbons, production mastermind Geoff Barrow, and guitarist Adrian Utley gave a mind-blowing performance that left us speechless, other than just saying “wow.” The U.K. natives had an extra guitarist and Radiohead's second drummer, Clive Deamer, playing with the group, to add to their phenomenal performance. (Apparently, Clive is Portishead's drummer and he plays for Radiohead sometimes.)


Opening with the song “Silence” off of the album Third, the crowd did
exactly that. The very loud crowd in the auditorium went silent, completely entranced by Gibbons' enchanting vocals. Utley's
dreamy guitar riffs blended with the incredible combination of Barrow
and Deamer on the drums made for one hell of an opener. As the set
continued, the auditorium remained quiet and in awe. At one point during the song “Glory Box,” Utley
played his guitar with a violin bow, which caused the crowed to let out hair-raisingĀ  cheer. Although there wasn't much in the way of movement on
stage, each song was packed with a tremendous amount of energy and
passion. The set's dark feel and psychedelic visuals made you feel like you weren't in
Los Angeles anymore.

Gibbons' singing was hypnotizing, especially on “Wandering Star”–perfect for the stripped down version they performed, which featured
Barrow on the bass. It led to the extra-gritty live sound of “Machine Gun,” and that song's fast-paced beats then led perfectly into the most
aggressive song of the night, “Over,” which included Gibbons screaming
into the microphone.

After all
of the aggression had been let out, the beautifully haunting sounds of
“Glory Box” slowed down the night again, showcasing Gibbons jazzy, Billy
Holiday-esque voice. Although these were great moments throughout the
set, let's not fail to acknowledge Gibbons intimate moment with the crowd
(which may take the cake for being the best part of the set). Even
though she hardly said a word to the audience and hid behind her hair
through out most of the set, while the band jammed out the end of
“Roads,” Gibbons jumped off of the stage, walked into the crowd and
started giving hugs to the fans. It was a great way to end an
outstanding show.

Although the set started 45 minutes late, Portishead put
on an unforgettable show that made up for their lack of punctuality. Not
having toured in over 10 years, the band looked and sounded better than
ever. Although I didn't get the chance to see their Coachella
performance back in 2008, last night's performance was phenomenal and so
much better than I thought it would be.

Critic's Bias: Last October I met Geoff Barrow at the Troubadour in
L.A after seeing him perform with his other band, Beak. He told me that there would be a Portishead tour to come, but that
he didn't know when. He is an awesome (and truthful) dude!

The Crowd: Everyone was wearing lots and lots of black!

Overheard in the crowd: “I wonder how Beth Gibbons feels while
performing on stage knowing that everyone in the crowd has had sex at
least once to her music.”

Random Notebook Dump: Right after thinking that the night was going
to be pretty mellow considering how entranced the crowd was with
Portishead's performance, I watched a really tiny girl
chug what looked to be whiskey and immediately pass out. Too



Nylon Smile


The Rip

Sour Times

Magic Doors

Wandering Star

Machine Gun


Glory Box

Chase the Tear





We Carry On

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