Review: Portishead at 1STBANK Center, 10/27/11

Categories: Last Night

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Chip Kalback
Beth Gibbons of Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center
PORTISHEAD at 1STBANK CENTER | 10/27/11
For the last show of its tour, Portishead put on one of the finest performances anyone is likely to see this year or any year. The band's energy, urgency and intensity kept building and building until the end when the instrumentation seemed to collide with one another in a way that made you think Portishead had ripped a hole through space and time. There was something that felt so intimate about this show that it pretty much made you forget you were in a large venue with thousands of other people.

If there was a song you really wanted to hear, chances are Portishead played it, and as it was being performed, you noticed things you may have missed in the studio version, things that were more fully realized in the live setting, like the flute sound during "Sour Times," which seemed to be filled with a vibrancy and clarity absent from the recorded version.

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Chip Kalback
Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center. See more Portishead Denver photos.

During "Wandering Star," you couldn't help but be struck by Beth Gibbons's voice and her ability to convey a fragile emotional intensity that always gets under the skin. Throughout the show, the video backdrop of shifting imagery included shots of the band playing, often with Gibbons' face wracked with the strength of feeling in her delivery.

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Chip Kalback
Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center. See more Portishead Denver photos.

Adrian Utley's yearning guitar work at the beginning of "Over" was even more brooding and foreboding than it is even on the live recordings from over a decade ago. When Geoff Barrow and the other players came in with the heavy percussion and noisy flourishes, it all hit with an incredibly moving impact that got more than a few people cheering from all over the crowd.

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Chip Kalback
Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center. See more Portishead Denver photos.

The guitar solo in the middle of "Glory Box," a song many of us heard so often in the mid '90s, was played so sensuously and with such a burning passion, it was even a little startling. "Magic Doors" sounded inexplicably like an incredibly sultry Devo song with its mixture of sounds. "Cowboys" was as mind-bending as ever with the dense layer of raw sound and drone flickering and crumbling around us to the tune of Gibbons' sound of determined yet desperate voice over the turntable trickery and signature glitchy sounds.

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Chip Kalback
Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center. See more Portishead Denver photos.

After concluding the main part of its set, Portishead came back out for an encore that included "Roads" and "We Carry On," a song that proved to be the high point of the evening, with its rapidly flickering pulse of a synth tone over syncopated swells and fractured guitar work under Beth Gibbons' chilling quaver.

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Chip Kalback
Portishead last night at 1STBANK Center. See more Portishead Denver photos.

Throughout the evening, Portishead did a masterful job of shrinking the room emotionally; even if you were far from the stage, you could fully feel the music in your body, and it was dialed in well enough that every annunciation and nuance of Gibbons's voice to carried throughout the room, haunting and thrilling everyone within earshot. The band could feel the room's reaction and said as much, remarking how the beautiful the audience was on this last show of the North American tour.


CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Personal Bias: Portishead is one of my favorite bands of all time.
Random Detail: Ran into Jeremy Ziehe of Bad Luck City and Ethan McCarthy of Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire at the show.
By the Way: This venue may be tucked back along the highway somewhere and the area might remind one a bit of Belmar, but the parking situation actually seems to be well managed.



Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

Location Info

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1STBANK Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, CO

Category: Music


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8 comments
Alkalinesky
Alkalinesky

Aside from the obnoxious concert goers screaming and dancing and drinking and vomiting and making general asses of themselves, the show was beyond description. That version of Wandering Star will stay with me a long, long time.

COJHAWK
COJHAWK

Sound was fantastic.  We were in the GA bowl most of the night but made it down to floor for the encore.  For "We Carry On" Beth Gibbons actually came down to the floor and was giving audience members hugs (I thought she had Agoraphobia)! 

Portishead+Incredible live sound and visuals (I mean really incredible visual display)= Realistic top 5 show. 

JamesJones
JamesJones

excellent show; her voice was unreal!

people who watch a show from a box have absolutely no room to complain about the mix!

Sigh, are you sure you weren't there? cause there was this obnoxious a-hole boulder kid in front of me that kept yelling and elbowing me. i thought maybe that prick was you...

Sigh
Sigh

Portishead put on one of the finest performances anyone is likely to see this year or any year.---------Awesome--a reviewer who knows the future! I wonder what I should wear to a concert 8 months from now that I won't like as much as the one I didn't see last night.

it'sTricky
it'sTricky

We were in a box on the side and the sound was poor to fair. Beth was hard to hear, and neither the intensity nor the details of the music traveled well. 1stbank should reconsider their sound configuration. Otherwise, the band's visuals were apropos and very complimentary to the music.

justin
justin

i think i was in front of him....he ruined the show completely and totally.

Crawf
Crawf

what a weird comment. seriously?

Tom Murphy
Tom Murphy

Seriously. Did I mention wearing something to this show? People are too silly sometimes.

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