Portico Quartet @ The Roundhouse, London 18.10.12

The great thing about the Roundhouse is there are no corners to hide in. There is plenty of darkness, sure, but the lack of dark angles makes canoodling less private. This is pure gold when it comes to gigging of a Thursday eve, especially when the likes of LV and Taylor McFerrin take to the stage. DJing with gusto, LV drops hard and heavy with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place in a front room of a student flat on a Saturday night. In keeping with the house party feel, McFerrin holds our attention with beatbox stylings that capture the shoegaze sensation that has been heralded of late. Interesting and clever, but with a hint of new born roots. House party vibes make for canoodling aplenty, though with the class of gig-spotter Portico Quartet snatch, we are lucky to not encounter much in the way of ‘petting’. WE breathe a sigh of relief.

Oct 18th, 2012 at The Roundhouse, London / By Clementine Lloyd
Portico Quartet @ The Roundhouse, London 18.10.12 And so for Portico Quartet, so named, supposedly, due to their being rained on during gigs in Italy and having to play under a Portico. Thus we witness their self-titled third studio album, live and kicking for our delectation. Since moving away from the full frontal jazz numbers that coloured their first two albums, Portico’s segue into samples and calculated beats heralds a more stanza-oriented structure. Opening with ‘Window Seat’, the soft approach lulls our senses, willing us to sink down into their own personal brand of hypnosis. Beanbags and a large glass of port would do nicely here!

Swaying under their spell, brought low by the Theremin (a newer development within their repertoire) the swelling sounds give way to the more industrial ‘Ruins’. Sturdy with its bassline and more hang-friendly, the stiff beat gives us something to hold on to, whilst still hanging limp under their overwhelming concoction. The arrival of the saxophone hails the Portico we know, growing with the inclusion of new elements. Its exciting to witness, though Bellamy, Fitzpatrick, Wyllie and new boy Kier remain mostly stationary.

‘Lacker Boo’, with all its twinkling synth and staccato rhythm, frames the difference between previous concoctions nicely. Its shimmer and stomp breathes an almost sinister creature into the atmosphere, whilst the warm glow from the stage holds us in a basking optimism. The hang drum flares at intervals throughout, lending audio warmth to the visuals. Diverting proceedings with the arrival of Cornelia, and some well place lyrics, we are steeped in ‘Steepless’. Looking like the delectable amalgam of Helena Bonham Carter and Jessica Rabbit, Cornelia is at home in this minimalist number. Her voice is like dark chocolate, rich, silky and just a little bit sweet. The boys clearly enjoy the feminine touch. Thanked, she bids adieu to the stage, as the boys launch into a jauntier ‘City Of Glass’, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Logan’s Run escape scene. Revolving in the midst of a swaying crowd, still balanced on the verge of somnambulism and ecstacy, the 3D effect of this track is in the balancing of samples with the delivery of contrabass and drums. Pure hedonism, as the energy amps up just in time for the encore track.

‘Dawn Patrol’, springing from Isla, encompasses more of the hang with long drawn out strings plucked at intervals. This other worldly effect delves deeper into their past adventures. Perhaps this gives the die-hard fans a bit of a reminiscent twist? Its cart-wheeling sax and bass combo breaks the hypnosis, and we are able to shake off the spell, become whole again, and walk out with a sense that something magical just happened.