November 2011 Archives
Portishead played the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on October 21. B and I made it there a bit late, but had a nice view and great audio in the shared concrete throne area.
The band played a combination of old 'classics' and newer tunes from Third. None were necessarily strict reproductions of studio sounds -- nor where they complete reinventions. They occupied a middle space, filling out some parts and accenting others in new, exciting, and crowd pleasing ways. The stage and set designs were minimal, as was the lighting, leaving the bands' chops to drive the evening's narrative. While the band was undeniably awesome, Beth Gibbons stole the show.
She emoted in impossibly human ways, flitting between guarded and transparent. There was no lack of raw emotion, sometimes screeched, but mostly sung in her singular and devastating voice. The evening's wrenching interpretation of "Wandering Star" stood out -- boiled down to a baseline and Gibbons' voice, it left the audience stunned into silence.
And, if nothing else, it made B a Portishead fan -- for which I am thankful.