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28 October 2014

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Beth from Portishead
Portishead are playing the tsunami gig

Geoff Barrow: The vibes man

by Rob Ellis, website contributor
Excitement is building as Bristol prepares for two enormous evenings of entertainment at the Bristol Academy.

Pioneering Bristol acts, Portishead and Massive Attack, will be sharing centre stage with a number of top draw acts, including Robert Plant, for two evenings of acoustic performances set to raise cash for the Tsunami Relief Appeal.

The first gig sold out in just 90 minutes as people frantically bought up the £30 tickets; eager to catch a rare glimpse of the artists in action and on home turf.

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to Portishead’s Geoff Barrow about the gigs and the ways that you can avoid missing the event even if you didn’t manage to get a ticket. But not about any forthcoming albums or anything remotely like that...

We’re here to talk about the Tsunami gig you and Portishead are involved in, alongside Massive Attack, Robert Plant and The Choral. How did the whole thing come about and how did Robert Plant end up getting involved with it?

Well, basically, I was talking to Beth over Christmas about the disaster and we decided that we should do something about it. So I got on the phone to our agent, then to Massive Attack and The Coral, and since the guys in Robert Plant’s band are the same guys that play in our band, and he’s locally based at the moment – or has been for a while now - we got in contact with him and he said he’d love to do it. He’s been very generous with his time.

Are you prepared for the gig as a band?

No – not at all – but we will be!

Has it been a while since you’ve all played together then?

Ade went on Beth’s tour so they’ve kind of played together but I haven’t actually been on stage for seven years. But then I don’t know how much stuff I’m actually going to do; ‘cos it’s quite acoustic, there’s not a lot of need for my electronic talents.

So you’re going to be the ‘vibes’ man then?

Ha ha! They’ll most probably give me a maraca and tell me to sit at the back of the stage!

Will we hear any new material at the gig?

No you won’t - we’ll just be playing familiar tracks.

How will the evening pan out then?

The way that the gig is actually lined up is: ourselves, Massive Attack, The Coral, Robert Plant, and one or two special guests as well. It starts about 8 o’clock and finishes about 12 or 1 o’clock. There’s a lot of bands to get in, in that space of time so the sets have been broken down a bit. It’s not the big production thing going on here – it’s just us doing our thing.

Do we get any clues about the special guests?

No! That would spoil the element of surprise!

The performance is also going to be available online I hear – tell us about that.

Tickets for the gig sold out in 90 minutes but you can watch the performance online for £4.50; it means you can also directly contribute towards Oxfam. Even if you’re out that night, down the pub or whatever, you can still watch it the day after and settle your hangover.

How long will the download be available for?

I think it will be available for up to a month afterwards. If you go to, it will tell you all the ways that you can watch it, how you can donate and what is happening with the gig – who’s been added to the bill – all that stuff.

last updated: 03/02/05
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