Playing as part of the Kalyan Presents X Beacons Metro show, Portico, with the help of singer Jono McCleery, took to the stage of Headrow House to deliver a remarkable set predominantly made up tracks from their last album with a few new tracks littered in. Having seen them in 2009 at WOMAD when they were still Portico Quartet, a jazz band, I was excited to see what their transition into the world of electronica entailed and they did not disappoint.
As part of the day, the room had previously been filled with art, and on the wall next to the stage there were projections of eerie images which added perfectly to the band’s mysterious sound – dancing figures casting shadows on the artwork. Arriving to the stage half an hour late due to a mischievous fire alarm, they opened with lead single from their album, ‘Living Fields’. Epitomising what the band’s new sound is all about, the song’s solid beat played out with fractured grooves on top and moody harmonies suddenly slipping into silky falsetto.
Their set list followed pretty much the exact order of their album, showing how they have created each song to meld into its predecessor seamlessly. It’s very easy to get lost in Portico’s music and the slight pause before ‘Brittle’ seemed to snap the audience out of their trance, reminding them that Portico are (at least slightly) human.
Ironically, after dropping the ‘Quartet’ from their name, they seem to have become four again. However, for their last song they performed as a trio, proving why they’ve changed their name, playing an incredible ten minute long jam with glorious electronica, comparable to Four Tet, which got everyone in the remaining audience dancing and finished the set on a massive high.