Tag Archives: Portishead

Last minute Fratellis… and now that I've recovered from Sunday night….

A chance look at the Birmingham Academy gig listings yesterday afternoon showed that the sold out Fratellis gig last night I’d forgotten about was no longer sold out…

It’s been a while since I’ve been to two gigs in as many days and the Fratellis had a lot to live up to (have a look at my previous post).  So what was it like?

I’ve come away a little disappointed.  I certainly wouldn’t call the Fratellis one of my favourite artists (as I would Portishead), neither would I have said that they were bad but they simply lacked the quality songs I was expecting.  The new album sounds disappointing as did some of the tracks from their debut.  Moreover, they didn’t sound better live: I would have got more listening to the record at the pub.

I should also say something about the crowd: there were plenty of people at the Academy who wouldn’t look out of place at a football match and some of the crowd singing wasn’t much better.  And that sums up the band all to well: some good singles but they’ll need to release a lot of material before they’ve got a really good live set, yet they seem to attract a huge following that I believe is a little undeserved.

Going back to Sunday, the crowd couldn’t have been much different.  Under 30s were definitely in the minority and there were plenty of older hippy people watching Portishead: not that there weren’t any older people at the Fratellis, but there was the usual mix of fashionistas and people who wouldn’t look out of place in Skins, a demographic in the minority on Sunday.

Perhaps I’m just getting old but I’m able to reinforce my opinion that most bands that have launched careers in the last few years simply aren’t as good yet are able to gain huge followings.  Admittedly being in the mosh pit for Chelsea Dagger was special but the final 4 minutes didn’t make up for what was a rather disappointing gig.

As for Portishead on Sunday…. well I can’t decide whether it is the best live performance I’ve seen but it’s certainly up there.

The crowd reaction was also rather telling… after every Portishead track, it felt as though the band were being given a standing ovation just for being there (not surprising being their first your in eleven years).  And last night?  Far more screaming but the applause didn’t last as long.  More notable was the number of people at the back who thought that talking through the entire set was fine, which really annoys me: surely the point of seeing live music is to actually listen to it?

Which also brings me back to Sunday: Portishead have a very different sound so this comparisson is a little unfair but during one of their quieter songs people weren’t afraid to show their distaste at people talking… made me feel like I was back in school as a five year old!

So was it worth it?  I suppose it was, especially for something so last minute (I bought my tickets at 4pm with the doors opening just 3 hours later) but only for the one time and I doubt I’l bother seeing the Fratellis live again, an opinion I hadn’t expected to reach.

All of this makes me wonder whether it’s worth seeing other newer bands like the Kooks, the Klaxons… from past experiences of Razorlight and the Killers, both are far better on record than they are live and I can now include the Fratellis in the same group.  Something tells me that my mass/mainstream gig days are somewhat numbered…

Portishead in Wolverhampton

I’ve just got home after seeing Portishead play at the Wolves Civic. To cut a long story short, it was quite simply one of the best gigs I’ve been to… if not the best ever: unsurprising for a band who haven’t done a tour of any kind for 11 years and have only played a handful of gigs in the last few years (as in one hand is enough to count them).

There was a good balance between new and old material, and considering that the new album (Third) is very different to their previous two albums, it still worked, even if it is perhaps a more mainstream sound (certainly within the Trip-Hop genre, Smoke City come to mind).

A slight disappointment was Wandering Star, certainly more emotional than the album version but the stripped down live version didn’t work for me. And I struggle to forgive the band not playing Strangers, my favourite track. But Cowboys (one of the few tracks from the 2nd album played), Glory Box, Numb, Roads and Sour Times more than made up for that, completely different live and simply astounding music to listen to.

Overall though it was nothing short of special and a band that I’d recommend to anyone if you get the chance to see them live… though I advise a few drinks before they take to the stage (at least enough to make you tipsy!).

Hopefully we won’t have to wait quite as long for the forth album!

THIRD Portishead album

It’s been a long time coming too… not quite so long a wait for me but even so it’s still been a long enough wait.

I first heard Portishead sometime around 2001 or 2002, through a car ad that featured one of their tracks (Numb from Dummy as it turned out).  Since then I’ve immersed myself in the genre of Trip-Hop and now own more than 35 hours worth of music that fits my loose definition of the genre…

But I always wondered whether there would be a third Portishead album, especially after I started a Trip-Hop radio show on BurnFM.com in 2005. In the three years I ran the show (under various names) there’s been at least one major release from the major exponents of the genre and I’ve managed to see most of the bands that define the genre of Trip-Hop: specifically Massive Attack, Zero 7 and Kosheen.

Back in 2005, Portishead announced that they were writing a third album, after countless forum postings suggesting it would happen. I tried (and failed) to get tickets for the Tsunami benefit concert in Bristol… but now I’ve got tickets to see them on April 13th in Wolverhampton.

As for the album… it’s released on April 28th, eleven years since their second album, the self-titled Portishead (I’m not counting the live CD from 1998) I’ve heard a few tracks, certainly a different sound but clearly based on the old foundations… can’t wait for next Sunday!