Portico: The Wardrobe Leeds, 21/4/2015
Dropping the word “Quartet” off their name, Portico has transformed from a Mercury Prize nominated jazz band to a brave group of sonic explorers entering the electronic dimension, ruled by the ingenious contemporaries such as Jon Hopkins and Mount Kimbie. While they no longer can refer to themselves as a jazz band, Portico has stayed true to their intensity and sound that allows you to travel inside the phenomenal soundscapes they manage to produce.
In Leeds, Portico was warmly welcomed to The Wardrobe by a small, yet dedicated audience who eventually was mesmerized and sucked into a world of pressing sounds and ghostly vocals of Jono McCleery. While their stage presence was lacking personality, their performance was enough to make anyone forget about the space and time. Closing your eyes meant surrendering oneself to sonic magnificence of Portico and – figuratively speaking – staring into an infinite abyss of overpowering drum sounds accompanied by haunting vocals similar to Arnor Dan and Casper Clausen of Efterklang.
An hour long set allowed the audience to experience Portico in the most wholesome way, seeing and hearing every aspect of them. While few of the first tracks felt slightly lukewarm, including the second single “101” from their debut album as Portico, the last 45 minutes of their performance hypnotized the audience with its power and beauty. While the emptiness of the venue was unfortunate, the lack of audience allowed the music to echo from the walls of The Wardrobe while the audience was standing still, completely captivated by the unique sound of Portico.
While they’ve changed their direction as a band entirely, Portico hasn’t lost the renowned vigour of the Portico Quartet. While some of the jazz enthusiasts might see this career change as a completely audacious move, Portico is the one getting the last laugh. These abstract soundscapes and sonic dimensions produced at The Wardrobe prove nothing but their superiority as musicians and I must say, Jon Hopkins and Mount Kimbie might wanna watch out.