Portugal. The Man are one of those bands who have mumbled their way through the independent scene for more than five years. Hailing from Alaska, but now based in Portland, Oregon, these five men may be more too often slung amongst the likes of newcomers Two Door Cinema Club (QRO album review), The Temper Trap (QRO live review), and the like, but from their inspirational performance on Thursday, November 17th at this hidden corner of London, the Dingwalls, it’s clear to see that Portugal. The Man are well and truly seasoned performers who know how to push all the right buttons.
Newly signed to major label, Atlantic, for latest In the Mountain. In the Cloud (QRO review), it’s taken a long time for Portugal. The Man to receive the attention that they’ve so badly craved throughout their career. From their onstage presence, and their musical onslaught, it’s clear to see that this is it – music is their passion and what they were born to do. From the eager-eyed faces of youngsters in the crowd – perhaps the average age here was 15 – singing along, pseudo-moshing, it was almost like a child’s birthday party. It wasn’t a bad thing, though. Given the age of the band and the clear influences this band have taken on – a very clear 1970s way, with elements of T-Rex and Ziggy oozing through – it’s funny how even newcomers to a band like Portugal. The Man can give the sense of what it is to reminisce about what it was like to grow up and put on your mother and father’s vinyl for the first times, yet to grow up in an age with current musical influences. It’s a wonderful thing to see – and it’s almost as if the band have passed down their love for music onto a next generation, even though Portugal. The Man are hardly old by any means.
Passion in musical performances is sometimes something hard to come by these days, with bands touring solely to support themselves in an age where selling records is a rarity and the only money is to be made is to tour extensively – which takes it’s toll in numerous ways, notably by making performance a chore. But here even in the darkest corner of the Dingwalls, it’s the furthest thing from it. Playing a range of tracks – which the entirety of the front row know the words to – the crowd swelled with excitement. Opening track “So American” couldn’t have been more appropriate in it’s nature, championing the bold, brash tones of American pride and propelling the crowd into frenzy. However, it didn’t stop there, and as Portugal. The Man reeled off a string of tracks off their back catalogue (the band have released an astounding seven studio albums since 2006) – “The Words”, “Young Dudes”, “Elephants”, “All Your Light” – the band did not fail to stun as they displayed an impeccable amount of talent and tightness whilst freely jamming between songs, picking up on elements from rock and roll music from the 1970s ‘til the present day. Clear to see, Portugal. The Man love what they do – the music, the adoration, the exploration of a musical landscape. Portugal. The Man are not bogged down with genre-fication and separation of elements, as both their album tracks and free-stylings show a real talent for nurturing the elements which work together, however untraditional or unthinkable. The result is something that really works, and begs the question: Why aren’t more bands more like Portugal. The Man?