PNYC: Portishead - Roseland New York
Dick Carruthers, US, 1998, 74'
Together with Massive Attack and Tricky, who are also from Bristol, Portishead is the founder of Trip Hop, an electronic music style which combines elements of dance, hip hop, reggae, jazz and ambient to produce the ideal soundtrack for the fin-de-siècle zeitgeist in the early 90s. Delayed hip-hop beats, cinematic arrangements and almost panting or ethereal vocals enter into the mix with digital sampling, break beats and the sound of a crackling needle on a grey vinyl record.
The live recording of the show that Portishead gave at the Roseland Theatre in New York in 1998 and the eponymous album are rightly praised. No gigantic light show or striking mise-en-scène, but a no-nonsense approach where Geoff Barrows, Adrian Utley, Andy Smith and singer Beth Gibbons just do their thing on stage (except that they share the stage with a 30-piece symphony orchestra). The orchestra adds an extra breath-taking dimension to the solid playlist made up of songs from their first two albums, Dummy and Portishead. The camera that floats majestically across the group and public, strengthens the magic. This whole setting makes songs like All Mine or Glory Box both timeless and melancholic classics.
© Portishead / Lemon Films Production