Portishead on Slovakian Dummy run at Pohoda

Portishead at Pohoda Festival 2011 by Virtual Festivals
Portishead at Pohoda Festival 2011 by Virtual Festivals

It could well be that the dark melancholy peddled by Portishead at Slovakia's Pohoda 2011 that has a deep resonance in a country well-known for it's collective self-effacement.

Of course, the could just love the tunes but the sound of groups of Slovakian men singing, ”I just wanna be a woman,” means our cultures can’t be that far apart.

As a reminder of just how potent the mix of Beth Gibbons’ hovering vocal and the lurching pulse and scratch of their sound is, this performance is revelatory.

Pohoda 2011 has been a test bed for reformed titans this year and in that regard, this is the definitive gig of the festival.

The crowd is palpably blown away from the start and they are being treated here like returning heroes. In fact they’ve never played here before.

The Pohoda stage handles bass so well that every note peels off the stage like thunder and as the band trawl their first two records, every one of those notes seems to get a ripple of approval – this is nothing short of love.

‘Dummy’ classics, ‘Over’, ‘Roads’ and ‘Mysterons’ mingle with bits and pieces of later work, including ‘Chase The Tear’, but as usual, there is little indication that anything major is happening as regards new material. They’re taking so long over it, they are turning into Bristol’s answer to Kraftwerk.

“Give me a reason to love you,” sings Gibbons during a faultless ‘Glory Box’. If adoration is a reason, she must be head over heels for Pohoda.

By Jon Wright.