Portishead returned to the Chicago stage (pics from Aragon)
photos by Ben Rodig
After two well-received albums, the group's core of Beth Gibbons, Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley took a decade-plus hiatus. In 2008, they reconvened around a more volatile sound and a new studio album, "Third." And on Wednesday, the prodigal trio - augmented by three musicians - returned triumphantly to a sold-out Aragon. Expectations hung in the air like one of Utley's sustained guitar notes, and the band in many ways shattered them for the better.
This was a heavier, more dynamic Portishead. Barrow often grumbled in interviews about the group being miscast as a between-the-headphones uneasy listening experience in the '90s (special spite would be reserved for those who dubbed the trio's sound "trip-hop"). But there was always turmoil and toughness in this music, and Wednesday's concert was all about magnifying it: The wide-angle sound was matched by an equally prodigious background video screen, which turned Utley's foot peddles and Barrow's drum sticks into larger-then-life weapons in stark black and white.
Some things hadn't changed since Portishead last played Chicago in the late '90s. Gibbons' voice still pierced through veils of hair, and she shyly turned her back to the audience during instrumental interludes.
After playing multiple nights at ATP in NJ and Hammerstein Ballroom in NJ, Portishead made their long awaited return to Chicago on 10/12 at the Aragon. Pictures from the Wednesdsay night show are in this post. They continue below...