Portishead, one of my favorite bands of all time, and let me repeat that – ALL TIME, was in Los Angeles this week for two sold out shows at The Shrine. In 1997 they released their self-titled sophomore album and my life would be forever changed. The lead single “Only You” perfectly encapsulated their sound of dark, moody melodies alongside amazing DJ scratching (it samples The Pharcyde’s “She Said), and was accompanied by a mind-bending video directed by Chris Cunningham. I owe a big credit to Portishead for my DJ career, they were the first non Hip-Hop group I ever saw with a DJ – before Linkin Park and all those terrible bands of the late 90s made it lame – and it really opened my eyes to exploring the technique further.
In their live show their DJ was really ripping it up, but if you’re a fan of Portishead, it’s most likely because you’ve fallen under the trance of Beth Gibbons’ unmatchable pipes. Her voice is unmistakable and inconceivable. In 2009 Golden Bloggen posted a list of our Top Current Female Singers and Beth Gibbons came in at #3. One of the things that landed her so high on the list is her ability to perfectly duplicate that album sound in her live performances. There are no studio tricks with Portishead. The band, DJ, and singer are all top notch and when they perform it all comes together like a well-oiled musical family who has been playing together for almost 20 years. This trip to the Shrine marks Portishead’s first trip to LA in I believe 13 years. They came to Coachella 3 years ago, and yes I was there, but as far as touring it has been over a dozen years. If you have to drive several hours to attend their show, do it! You may not get another chance to see one of the most influential and musically groundbreaking bands of our time ever again.
NOTE: They must have very strict non-smoking rules at the Shrine because Beth Gibbons did not smoke a cigarette during her entire performance. It was like seeing a unicorn. I’ve never seen her without a cigarette in her hand.