For weeks on end the buzz about Portishead coming to Montreal crept up people's minds and blasted from their headphones into the metro. As the date of the show drew closer, the anticipation excelled to a degree of upmost height. Personally, I couldn't help to be a part of the occasion since the band's last North American tour dawned at the peak of their success in 98'.
On the chill night of October 7th, I gathered with the mass of mid-20 year old trip-hop enthusiasts on Quai Jaques Quartier to witness this long awaited show. With the stars burning bright along with the Place Des Arts light installation beaming into the sky from behind the stage; it was an autumn night like no other. People huddled around in their grey toned attire, whispering to each other about what they predicted to be the band's opening song. Though I doubt anyone had a clue that it would begin with “Silence”, I thought it was an ideal place to start. The show would then have the crowd induced with whirlwind emotions of nostalgia. The visuals projected had that intergalactic characteristic infused with “technical difficulties” as the live performance on the stage combined itself onto the screen. The show continued with the retro surf influenced guitar strumming of “Sour Times” and Beth Gibbins' voice remaining heartfelt and agonizing at the same time, just as we remembered it sounding from our cd players. Leading into to the synthetic vinyl scratching in “Wandering Stars” to the pulsing beats of “Machine Gun”, the succession of songs from one album to the other had the audience in an up and down trip, as if being told the story of the challenges this band faced with the realization of their latest album.
My favourite moment was when they played the classic “Glory box”. All the women in the crowd sang along, eyes closed, swaying in the red light and it seemed like a moment we all lived through together. Alone in the midst of the crowd, I had a chance to catch on to the little details that made this show more eventful. The echos from the crowd sounding from the speakers gave the impression that we were all in an intimate venue rather than out in open air. If there was one thing I didn't appreciate from the show, it might have been the fact that Portishead lacked a greeting to the audience but I figure that was a part of the show, for their performance is how they truly connect with the audience. As an encore, they played “We Carry On” another perfect example of where Portishead is heading. Exhilarated and a little bit drunk at the end of it all, I proceeded out of the site onto the bridge leading into the streets of Old Montreal. I thought: “wow, time sure does fly”.