Portishead & Thought Forms @ Hammerstein Ballroom 10.4.11

Portishead being ridiculously dope

Despite shot nerves from the excitement surrounding Radiohead at Roseland just days before, senses were still a-tingling for our long-awaited first Portishead show at Hammerstein Ballroom.

Thought Forms started off the night with long-winded droning guitar rock that lost us from the get-go. Their only palatable song was their second of the night which a friend pointed out could soundtrack the manhunt for serial killer. At some point we wondered "are they playing the first song again?" and that was it. Thought Forms may have not impressed much but at least their loud, massive sound served as great indicator that our beloved headliners were bound to blow our eardrums out.

The first time on a New York stage in years, the Bristol band made up for lost time with a life-affirming set mainly of the songs off their last album Third and a few lovely songs from our youth. Bearing witness to this band's prowess in person  --the vulnerability in Beth Gibbons' voice, Geoff Barrow going battlestar scratchlactica on the turntables, etc.-- cemented the realization that we've been listening to great music for most of our short lives and it was something to be proud of.

Some highlights of the night: The pulling of heartstrings during "The Rip," the near deafening greatness of "Machine Gun," observing drummer Clive Deamer in his natural habitat, fresh off playing with Radiohead, the crowd going into a frenzy every time Geoff Barrow worked the turntables and finally Beth coming down to the floor at the end of the set to shake hands with the front row. It was no crowd surf like at All Tomorrow's Parties but a sweet gesture all the same.

A brilliant performance left us awestruck and hungry. Luckily this was no reunion tour but a preparation for things to come and we can hardly wait!

Words by Cheep
Photo by Snail

Check out more pictures and the setlist at BrooklynVegan


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