Saturday, April 21, 2012

Live Review - Portugal. The Man @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Portugal. The Man have had an interesting April, first their longtime keyboardist Ryan Neighbors left the band to pursue more solo material. Then earlier this month, it was reported that they fired their touring drummer mid-set in New Orleans and still managed to continue their show. Now, after all the departures and stress, one of the greatest live bands around returned to the New York area for their sold-out headlining slot at the Jagermeister Music Tour.

As soon as you walked into Brooklyn's beloved Music Hall of Williamsburg it was evident that the mix of corporate branding and artistic integrity are going to go neck-and-neck all night. As the Jager logo was splashed all around the intimate venue, the massive lighting set-up from Portugal. The Man's stage sprawled into the audience like octopus tentacles reaching out to grab you. The interesting juxtaposition made for an interesting ambiance but at the end of it all, we were all in attendance to see the Portland, Oregon-via-Wasilla, Alaska art rock band.

Arriving on stage at 11pm and opening with "All Your Light," any story or issue one may have heard about the band not being up to par with their new rookie members was not only thrown out the window straight away, it was also just that - a story. Portugal. The Man, who are the road dogs of music these days are such a tight, well oiled machine that any new introduction, in terms of musicians, would have to be fast learners and talented players and they recruited just that. In the near two hours they were on stage, Portugal. The Man lit up the room (literally and figuratively) with a fantastic setlist that featured "Do You," "Head is a Flame," "So American," "Got it All," "People Say," "Guns and Dogs," "Sleep Forever" and many more. What was brilliant and has always been brilliant about seeing this band live is that you never know what to expect next, many of the songs were stretched out with the band breaking down the music and jamming on their instruments creating a rock meets acid jazz sound that Miles Davis and his Bitches Brew-era band would have loved to witness. Yet, the real highlight was how Portugal. The Man managed to seamlessly add two Beatles classic's - "Helter Skelter" and "Hey Jude" into their performance, the covers were certainly something the Fab Four would greatly admire.

While this has been one of the countless times we have covered this band for this site and each show has been better than the last, one thing has been constant - you can see Portugal. The Man everyday of the week and every time it will be as if you are seeing a different band. They are Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you are going to get but what is for sure is that you will get something you will always remember.