Portishead's New Depth
Washington Post, May 6, 1995
Before a sluggish crowd at Radio Music Hall Tuesday night, Portishead
animated and electrified under an hour's worth of it's tranced-out
hip-hop and soul. The group, on a two-week US tour to promote
its album "Dummy," arrived with four musicians backing
up vocalist Beth Gibbons and song-writer-programmer-deejay Geoff
Barrow. On record, its sample- and synth-driven songs can come
off as overwrought and torpid. Live, however, the Portishead took
on more depth, filled out with winding, grinding wah-wah guitar.
But Portishead's interaction with the
audience was as minimal as Radio Music Hall's decor; Gibbons confined
herself mostly to swaying around the microphone stand between
drags on a cigarette.
The biggest suprise was the show closer, the hit "Sour Times."
The band played it much slower than on record, treating it as
a sort of moody, romantic dirge - until the last minute, when
it cranked up the volume and drove the song into a wall of feedback,
climaxing with the guitars and Gibbons screaming at equal volume.
Those closing instants contained more energy than all 50 minutes