Portishead – Roseland New York City Concert (1997)

Just so you guys know, I haven’t forgotten about live Saturdays. The past few weeks have been pretty draining and I’m having a hard time pulling myself together. I guess it shows in the frequency of my posts. In any case, I’ve got a great video for today. I know I wrote about this album before, but the Roseland NYC performance is simply legendary, and it’s, to my eyes, even more impressive and charming than the studio material Portishead issued throughout the years.

Beth Gibbons is just staggering live. She’s so intense she seems to bend the space around her, in spite of seeming so awkward, so fragile on stage. To me it feels like it’s all she can do not to curl up in a fetal position, in midair, and draw all the light and air out of the room towards her, as a sort of supernatural human/black hole hybrid. I must admit I’ve had a crush on Beth Gibbons ever since I first heard her, but seeing her smoking a cigarette while singing like that makes me want to forget I ever tried quitting! I can’t recall ever seeing a cooler image in my life!

The music itself is greatly augmented by the orchestra. The ominous, hurtful, emotional maelstrom bubbling beneath the surface in Portishead’s simple, repetitive riffs and heavy rhythms is simply elevated to a new level of intensity with the subtle presence of the strings vibrating in the background. The movie soundtrack influence in many of the band’s songs is thus highlighted in a very effective way, everything becomes even more overwhelming, even larger than life. I can’t believe Portishead haven’t done a James Bond theme song yet, honestly…

Well, I leave you with Roseland NYC, one of the most intense concert videos I’ve ever seen, and I’ll see you soon!

One thought on “Portishead – Roseland New York City Concert (1997)

  1. The Orchestra is amazing… You are right about the lead singer… It’s not often that a vocalist can sound exactly like their studio alter-egos or better. She doesn’t disappoint.

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