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24 September 2014
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Picture of Portishead performing
Portishead play the Academy this weekend

Tsunami gig: Reviewed

by Andrew Sutcliffe, website contributor
Read our review of Saturday's tsunami relief gig at the Academy, or scroll to the bottom and check out readers' views. Add your own by filling in the form and hitting 'submit'.


Saturday at the Bristol Academy was unique in a number of ways.  Portishead emerged from a seven year recess to share the stage with fellow locals Massive Attack and both delivered a staggering, note perfect, live set.

Billed as being "nearly-unplugged", the sound of these bands was airy and immaculate, the natural beauty of their songs shone through without major 'electronic' assistance.

However, there was a lot more to the gig than just this.

The concert was one of many in Bristol set up in association with Oxfam to assist those affected by December's tsunami in Asia.

Money raised by the event will go to Oxfam's relief effort in the areas affected by the catastrophe.  An Oxfam spokesman said: "The guys from Massive Attack and Portishead have done a fantastic job in pulling all this together.

"Not only will the concerts help Oxfam raise funds for our life-saving work in Asia, they will also help people understand the underlying causes of poverty, and give them ideas as to how they can make a difference."

Now you could just give £30 to the Tsunami Aid Project, but why not be entertained as well? It was fantastic to see so many major stars playing on the same bill and giving their time and energy to such a heart-wrenching cause. 

So who played?  First up were Patrick Duff and Alex Lee, formerly of Bristol band Strange Love, followed by Fuzz Against Junk.

Jangley

The former treated us with Western style movie themes.  I particularly enjoyed the flute and double bass playing of the latter, and was reminded of the 'folk-psych' sounds of Jefferson Airplane.

Both delivered mellow unplugged sets and warmed the crowd up nicely.

Next up were The Coral, who were entertainingly jangley in a distinctly Beatlesque way.  They very effectively set the scene for the rest of the show.

I've been a fan of Robert Plant and his former Led Zep colleagues for 25 years now, and it was great to see him playing live again.

Robert Plant And The Strange Sensation floated on to the Bristol stage and delivered a leisurely semi-acoustic set, ably supported by 'Wayward Sheiks'' guitarist, Justin Adams. Enjoyable, but I couldn't help missing my childhood hero, Jimmy Page.

The 'Special Guest' slot for the evening was a complete surprise! I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it took one whole number before the penny dropped as to who I was watching.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this. 

A shadowy figure in a shell-suit, sitting on a tiny seat hunched over a miniature guitar. The opening chords of Tender streamed across the venue. Yes - this was Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame.

His performance was strong, sincere and touching, and the songs' refrain of "Come on, come on, get through it... Love's the greatest thing" struck a chord with the packed crowd. 

He reminded us: "Helping tsunami victims is not just about giving money - it's also about people working together and raising awareness. Find out about what's happening in other countries."

He reinforced the message of forging links and supporting others, and he highlighted Oxfam's current 'Make Poverty History' campaign. He exited to rapturous applause. What an inspirational man.

Massive essence

The night just got better and better - next up, Massive Attack.  What a treat to see the band in a relatively intimate venue, and unplugged too. This gig was a world away from the last time I saw them, 18 months ago in Queen Square.

No huge screens and lightshow, just the essence of a great band. They played Karmacoma to a delirious audience, and then topped it by welcoming ex-Cocteau Twins, Liz Fraser to the stage for Teardrop - beautiful.

I had been tipped off earlier by another punter that something special was going to happen between the sets played by Massive Attack and co-headliners Portishead, and I wasn't disappointed.

Massive finished off with an instrumental version of Portisheads' Glory Box and got an incredible response from the crowd.  Singer Beth Gibbons then joined them and the crowd went wild as the Massive and Portishead jammed the song together.

Seven years is a long time to be away, but Portishead were just a fresh as I hoped they'd be.  Beth was in great form and has such a fragile and emotive voice.

We were treated to Mysterons, Wandering Star (awesome), and the poignant Roads among others. It was a shame to see them finally leave the stage - they were sheer magic. 

They plan to team up with Massive Attack again in April - 'double trouble' at its most wicked!

If you are one of the thousands of people who couldn't get tickets for either night, it is possible to view a webcast of the Saturday concert online. It costs £4.50 with cash going to Oxfam.

last updated: 21/02/05
Have Your Say
What did you think of the gig? Fill out the form below and hit the submit button.
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The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

dj rogue
it had been a dream to see Portishead live. this gig was unbelieveable, both massive nad [P] sounded awesome!

caryne
The bands were great when they were on (Sunday) but they time for the change-overs was ridiculous, I actually timed it and there was more time watching nothing than there was watching live music, as this was 'unplugged' and they had already played on the Saturday night, surely they could have been a bit better organised, from where I was it seemed a shambles.

Jan
What a fantastic concert and such a great cause. I've already watched the webcast today and relived it - superb. it's on http://www.crisisinasia.co.uk for a mere 4.50 and it all goes to helo Oxfam help people affected by the tsunami. Bargain.

Chris
Robert plant the massive coral in albarns in Portishead to stunning effect!

Ellie
An absolutely fantastic evening. Seeing Portishead was a lifetime ambition fulfilled and exceeded, and everybody else was fantastic. I especially hope to see more of James Volk, the first performer on sunday. Brilliant gig, all for a worthy cause!

Andy Lewis
A stunning evening, with all the bands on top form, note-perfect. Linking Massive Attack to Portishead via the grooves of Glory Box was superb. Looking forward to seeing it again on the webcast, would a DVD of the evening be too much to ask?

Gary Sawyer
A great evening, a great crowd and a great atmosphere. I was looking forward to seeing Massive Attack but came away feeling that Portishead had stolen the show. Beth was awesome and blew us away! FANTASTIC!!

Paul Williams
A great evening, it was fantastic to see the legend, Robert Plant for the first time and lovely to see Massiver in a more stripped down capacity. But Portishead were absolutely mesmeric, a welcome return for Beth and the boys.

ruth
brilliant, once in a life time type thing.

Scott Williams
A fantastic evening of entartainment and the appearance of Damon Albarn was a surprise.

chozze
for some strange reason I cant pay for webcast view of gig with my e-card. So I wrote to support still waiting for answer :-(.

Dave
Amazing - incredible buzz throughout the the crowd, Robert Plant was superb and the singalong to Tender was great. But the high point was Portiisheads return to the stage with Glory Box = Out of this world!!!

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