Portishead (band)

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Portishead - Roskilde Festival 2011 - Orange Stage-cropped.jpg
Portishead live at Roskilde Festival in 2011.
Background information
Origin Bristol, England
Genres Trip hop, experimental rock, electronic, downtempo, alternative rock[1][2]
Years active 1991–present
(Hiatus: 1999–2005)
Labels Go!, London, Island / Mercury
Associated acts BEAK>, Get the Blessing, Massive Attack, Tricky
Website www.portishead.co.uk
Members Beth Gibbons
Geoff Barrow
Adrian Utley
Dave McDonald

Portishead is a band formed in 1991 in Bristol, England. The band is named after the nearby town of the same name, 8 miles west of Bristol.[3] Portishead consists of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley, while sometimes citing a fourth member, Dave McDonald, an engineer on Dummy and Portishead.[4][5]


Dummy (1994)[edit]

Portishead's first album Dummy was released in 1994. The credits of Dummy indicate that at this juncture, Portishead was a duo of Geoff Barrow and Beth Gibbons. Adrian Utley, who co-produced the album with Portishead (and who played on 9 of the tracks and co-wrote 8), became an official band member shortly after the album's release.

Despite the band's aversion to press coverage, the album was successful in both Europe and the United States (where it sold more than 150,000 copies even before the band toured there).[6] Dummy spawned three singles: "Numb", "Sour Times", "Glory Box", and won the Mercury Music Prize in 1995.[7] The success of the album saw the band nominated for Best British Newcomer at the 1995 Brit Awards.[8] In 2003, the album was ranked number 419 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[9] The album is often considered one of the greatest Trip hop albums to date and is a milestone in the definition of the genre. The album cover features a still from the band's own short film To Kill a Dead Man.

Portishead (1997)[edit]

After their initial success, Portishead withdrew from the spotlight for three years until their eponymous second album, Portishead, was released in 1997. The album's sound differed from Dummy, characterised as "grainy and harsher."[citation needed] Three singles, "All Mine", "Over" and "Only You" were released, the first one achieving a Top 10 placing in the UK.[10]

Roseland NYC Live (1998)[edit]

In 1997, the band performed a one-off show with strings by the New York Philharmonic orchestra[11] at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. A live album primarily featuring these new orchestral arrangements of the group's songs was released in 1998. There was also a long-form VHS video of the performance, and a DVD followed in 2002, with substantial extra material including many early music videos.

Hiatus (1999–2005)[edit]

In 1999, Portishead recorded the song "Motherless Child" with Tom Jones for his album Reload. For the next few years, the band members concentrated on solo and other pursuits. In February 2005, the band appeared live for the first time in seven years at the Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol.[12] Around that time, Barrow revealed that the band was in the process of writing its third album. In August 2006, the band posted two new tracks on its MySpace page (called "Key Bored 299 03" and "Greek Jam"), described by Barrow as "doodles".[13] Around the same time, Portishead covered Serge Gainsbourg's "Un Jour Comme un Autre (Requiem for Anna)" on the tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.

Third (2008)[edit]

On 2 October 2007, Portishead stated that the new album Third had been mixed and was nearly complete, and was due for release in early April 2008. The release was later pushed to 28 April. On 8 and 9 December 2007, the band curated the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England. The festival featured their first full live sets in nearly 10 years.[14] They premiered five tracks from the new album: "Silence", "Hunter", "The Rip", "We Carry On", and "Machine Gun". On 21 January 2008, a European tour to support the album was announced,[15] together with a headline spot at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on 26 April 2008,[16] their only U.S. date on the tour.

Third was made available on Last.fm the week before release, attracting 327,000 listeners in just under 24 hours.[17] It was the first time Last.fm had made an album available before its official release date. The album was released on 29 April 2008 to coincide with the band's appearance at Coachella.[18] Portishead's Geoff Barrow realised a "boyhood fantasy" when Chuck D of Public Enemy joined the band onstage at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival curated by Portishead in Asbury Park, NJ on October 2011. He contributed his verse from the P.E. song "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" over Portishead's single "Machine Gun".[19]

Post-Third (2008–present)[edit]

On 18 May 2008, Barrow expressed Portishead's enthusiasm for recording new material on their official website's blog, stating that he "can't wait to write some new tunes".[20] On 28 September 2009, Barrow announced "big plans" for a new project with a new angle, hinting that an album could arrive as soon as late 2010.[21] Whilst the album has yet to materialise, on 9 December 2009, the band released the song "Chase the Tear" for Human Rights Day to raise money for Amnesty International UK.[22] Additionally, on 3 December 2008, Universal Music Japan reissued the albums Dummy and Portishead in limited edition on SHM-CD.

During Summer 2011, Portishead performed at a number of festivals in Europe. On 9 July 2011, Portishead performed at the main stage of Pohoda Festival, Trencin, Slovakia, in front of 20,000 fans. On 10 July 2011, Portishead performed at the main stage of Exit Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia, in front of more than 20,000 fans. Portishead were also scheduled to perform at the 2011 Benicàssim Festival in Spain,[23] Rock Werchter in Belgium, Paleo Festival in Switzerland, Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the Hurricane/Southside Festivals in Germany, and the Super Bock Super Rock music festival in Portugal.[24]

In 2011 the band headlined and curated the line-up for two All Tomorrow's Parties music festivals entitled I'll Be Your Mirror. The first took place in London at Alexandra Palace on 23 and 24 July.[25] The second took place in Asbury Park, New Jersey from 30 September – 2 October.[26] The band also announced on 11 July 2011 their plans to headline their first full North American tour in over a decade. Though the tour was small, Portishead visited New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Seattle, Vancouver, and Denver during October. On 15 October, Portishead performed in Mexico's "Corona Capital Fest" alongside The Strokes and many other bands. Finally, in November 2011, the band returned to Australia to headline The Harvest Festival alongside The National, The Flaming Lips, and Bright Eyes. While there, they also played in New Zealand on 10 November, at Vector Arena.[27]

In September 2011, Barrow stated in a Rolling Stone interview that he would begin work on his portion of the album in January 2012, pointing out "that could mean another fucking 10 years" before a new album is released.[28]

In 2013 the band headlined the other stage at the Glastonbury Music festival, embarked on a European tour, and played shows in countries such as Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Czech Republic and others.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taylor, Steve (27 September 2006). The A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826482171. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Brandle, Lars (1 March 2008). "Coming (Back) Together". Billboard 120 (9): 29. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 26 November 2012. "The trend will continue this year when two of Britain's most important '90s alternative bands-The Verve and Portishead-make their respective U.S. returns for the first time in nearly a decade." 
  3. ^ Portishead and Bristol on Google Maps
  4. ^ "The Rock Hard Times: Dave McDonald". Trht.net. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "A Portishead Fansite: Dave McDonald". Kotinetti.suomi.net. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Biography AllMusic. Retrieved 28 December 2007
  7. ^ Mercury Music Prize Winners BBC. Retrieved 28 December 2007
  8. ^ Portishead BRITs Profile BRIT Awards Ltd. Retrieved 21 November 2012
  9. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 18 November 2003. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "everyHit.com search results". everyhit.com. Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Review of PNYC". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved 5 January 2008. 
  12. ^ Tsunami benefit concert review BBC Music. Retrieved 5 January 2008
  13. ^ Quote from Geoff Barrow The Guardian 29 August 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2007
  14. ^ Review of December 2007 ATP shows StrangeGlue.com. Retrieved 27 December 2007
  15. ^ Portishead announce 2008 tour NME. Retrieved 27 January 2008
  16. ^ "Coachella lineup". Coachella.com. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  17. ^ "Portishead fans flock together for early album stream". Side-line.com. 1 May 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  18. ^ Broadley, Erin (5 May 2008). "> Interviews > Portishead". SuicideGirls. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  19. ^ Portishead on Public Enemy TheQuietus.com. Retrieved 11 June 2008
  20. ^ "back home". Portishead.co.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2011. [dead link]
  21. ^ Davies, Rodrigo (27 September 2009). "Geoff Barrow Interview For BBC". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "Portishead to release 'Chase the tear' as limited edition vinyl for Amnesty". amnesty international. Archived from the original on 27 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  23. ^ "The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Portishead, Primal Scream Confirmed For FIB 2011 (November 29, 2010) : News". PlugInMusic.com. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Fullsix Portugal. "SBSR , Super Bock". Superbock.pt. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  25. ^ "I'll Be Your Mirror London curated by Portishead & ATP – All Tomorrow's Parties". Atpfestival.com. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  26. ^ ATP: I'll Be Your Mirror Asbury Park
  27. ^ "Concert review: Portishead, Vector Arena". The New Zealand Herald. 15 November 2011. 
  28. ^ By Steve Baltin (20 September 2011). "Portishead to Start Work on New Album in January | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 

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