Portugal. The Man review – breakout alt-rockers lurk in the shadows

By On July 25, 2018

Portugal. The Man review â€" breakout alt-rockers lurk in the shadows

Pop and rock Portugal. The Man review â€" breakout alt-rockers lurk in the shadows 3 / 5 stars 3 out of 5 stars.

O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
The US band deliver a sprawling set of synth jams, windswept covers and expansive freestyles

Thirtysomething with heart … Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, London.
Thirtysomething with heart … Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, London. Photograph: Gus Stewart/Redferns

Until last year, Portugal. The Man (the full stop is “an attempt to make the band feel like a bigger entity”) had been noisily going about their business, releasing alt/psych records that attracted positive reviews but relatively few paying customers. Then came their eighth album, Woodstock, and its Grammy-winning lead single, Feel It Still. The surprise success has been so life-changing for the Alaska-via-Portland sextet that they’ve constructed a stage backdrop spelling out their astonishment. Messages such as “THANK YOU FOR BUYING (OR STEALING) OUR NEW ALBUM” and “WE LOVE PLAYING [CITY NAME]” play on a video screen, as does a defensive: “WHO SAID WE WERE A REAL BAND ANYWAY?”

This question is their riposte to accusations that they sold out by writing a pop hit â€" one that interpolates the hook of the Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman. Tonight’s sprawling, often formless show can be taken as a pushback against the notion that one hit track negates 13 previous years of experimental-rock twiddling. Feel It Still is dispatched early in the set, lea ving the group (plus their generally inaudible backing brass trio) free to dive into fluid guitar/synth jams. The musicians, playing in shadow, are secondary to the visuals â€" swirling galaxies, naked androgynous figures â€" but even then, falsetto-voiced singer John Gourley and guitarist Eric Howk are distinctive presences looming out of the darkness.

There is a lot to take in at this sole British gig â€" almost too much. The show overflows with 20th-century cultural paraphernalia, including a suitably sneering introduction from Beavis and Butt-Head (“Portugal. The Man are greater than the Beatles, greater than the Rolling Stones, greater than Supertramp!”), windswept Metallica and Pink Floyd covers and a projection of Malcolm X’s warning against “loving the people who are doing the oppressing”. Portugal are thirtysomethings with hearts in the right places, but a disinclination to dig deeper into their source material â€" which might lead to a more thought-provo king show â€" or to restrain themselves when they feel a lengthy keyboard/guitar freestyle coming on.

Topics
  • Pop and rock
  • Indie
  • Psychedelia
  • reviews
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Source: Google News Portugal | Netizen 24 Portugal

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