Portishead – live at Elysee Montmartre, Paris – June 11, 1997 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Portishead in concert this weekend. Recorded at Elysee Montmartre in Paris on June 11, 1997.
Portishead are no stranger to this website – one of the bands I consider essential listening, whose albums are practically required to be in any music library of two albums or more. They have shaped the 90s and thankfully, are continuing on the road of innovation and inspiration even in times of Pandemic. The story of how Portishead formed is a well-read one – it offers further evidence that some things are just destined to happen and that there are really no accidents when something is just perfect and comes together almost effortlessly.
Obviously, Beth Gibbons is the soul and guiding light, but Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley are just as crucial – and in a way, each is an equal share contributor to the overall complex tapestry of the band – this is a communal effort, a shared vision, and that’s what makes it such compelling and repeated listening. This is music that reveals more with each encounter.
It’s further proof that the 90s were a much more pivotal and important musical decade than is sometimes acknowledged. When people complain about the relative dearth of substance in contemporary music, they aren’t looking past the mainstream for evidence to the contrary, and that’s a huge loss for the listener. But I really wonder how necessary, aside from financial considerations, it is to have a song like Sour Times wafting over the frozen food aisle of your local supermarket. Strangely, a lot of contemporary mainstream music heads in that direction and I believe Portishead are a lot more than that. This is a band with endless possibilities that signify musical change in a positive direction and continue to do so. Having resumed activity since 2005, after a hiatus of some six years, they are still scratching the surface They have a lot more to say and we have a lot more to dive into.
Lucky us. Fortunate us.