Concert Recap: Portugal. The Man @ House of Blues – 4/9/12
The night that began and ended with a little bit of history
Big History, the New Orleans natives who welcomed the night with a whirlwind of sound, caught the utmost attention from the early-arriving patrons. On the pleasantly crowded House of Blues floor, it was easy to get a view of the multiple-synthesizer, hi-tech laboratory that the band operated sensationally alongside some hefty reverb punch from the guitar, a very calculating drummer, an electric violin sewing silk of sound, and a delicate perfection of vocal harmonies. The set was a successful array of musical ingenuity that kept the early crowd absorbed in the melodic carnival that is Big History.
The night progressed into the realm of The Lonely Forest, whose formula consisted mostly of grand loudness. There was nothing shy about John Van Deusen’s voice (and with a name that there, there shouldn’t be) as he punched holes in the ceiling with soothing wails while the sound from around him washed over the room in waves. The band’s animated jubilee seemed to make their mindset pretty clear: If you’re not doing this, your life isn’t any fun.
Little did we know that the night would soon, in quite the Easter spirit, be doing a little crashing, a tiny bit of burning, and a lot of mind-easing resurrecting. At first, there was Portugal. The Man at its finest, with John Gourley at the helm (behind his gorgeous hollow-body that seemed to want to swallow him) and no shortage of motion-demanding tunes amidst a more than willing crowd. The octopus-tentacled lighting rig glowed red and blue as the band ransacked our hearts with the opening track “All Your Light”, and the room kept to swaying as Portugal. kept to drenching us with melodies. The band took it to another level when their performance of “Devil” transformed into a gloriously rock-and-roll rendition of “Helter Skelter”, sending chills and roars alike throughout the cascading warmth of air and sound. At this fine point, Portugal. owned where our minds would go, commanding our awe and gratitude. Then things got a bit fishy.
The band’s most recent drummer (who moved in after replacing Jason Secrist at the end of 2011) must’ve grown impatient with the awesomeness he was seemingly helping to create, so he up and split. Then the rest of the band followed, leaving a mass of perplexed stink-faces in the confused crowd. What had just happened? Was this a naughty joke? Or even worse, was the show over? Finally, through profuse apologies, the band returned to perform an acoustic set. Rumor has it the drummer had gotten hammered one-too-many times, so the band decided to fire him half way through the show (a familiar tale from golden roads past). Tense, you could say, but Portugal. nevertheless redeemed themselves with a sensuous acoustic set, which was eventually accompanied by Braydn Krueger, drummer from The Lonely Forest. The chameleon crowd was ultimately unaffected by the strange turn of events, as we all adapted, alongside the determined band, following the timeless cliché, “The show must go on!”
There was nothing else to think or feel besides the serendipitous comfort that corralled a nearly-deflated night into a righteous display of dedication and redemption. The songs continued to come, as right and true as ever, with only a few beats being skipped, as the group of natural performers that are Portugal. The Man carried us through acoustic bliss. It couldn’t have been more appropriate than ending with the tune “Sleep Forever”, as the set certainly seemed to pull us into and through a dreamy, briefly tumultuous, world of sound. Wait, not so fast. It did get more appropriate, when the band blended “Sleep Forever” with an enchanting refrain of “Hey Jude” to send us off with love. Ultimately, the show was a blessed, reviving experience and further proof that Portugal. The Man is truly a steadfast rock machine.
Portugal. The Man, responded to a question about the situation this morning and had this to say:
All good, looked worse than it was. The stripped down set was cool.
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