The ever-changing Portugal. The Man

P.TM's lead guitarist John Gourley at the Paradise last weekend Photo Courtesy Lucien Flores

Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 10/26/11

Portugal. The Man has steadily gained attention since their 2006 debut – Waiter: “You Vultures!.” Over the last five years, the band has created fantastic music and cultivated a loyal fan base, while never quite hearing the recognition they deserve. In 2011, five albums later, Portugal. The Man is finally making headlines – and they’re still rising.

Having recently played their largest ever venue ever (New York’s Terminal 5), Portugal. The Man snuggled into a cozier – sold-out – Paradise Rock Club on Sunday with 904 of their devotees in support of their latest release, In The Mountain In The Cloud.

In last week’s interview with bassist Zach Carothers, he revealed that “We’re never going to be one of those bands that goes out and sounds exactly like our record and so we want to make something different and add to it. We want to change it up tour-by-tour and show by show so that people keep coming back.”

As always, this ideology was clearly evident and certainly welcomed.  A nifty bongo duel was added to the supreme “AKA M80 The Wolf” and acapella ending felt natural on “Our Way” while covers of “Helter Skelter,” “All The Young Dudes,” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” treated the audience.  The band even went into rarities such as “The Devil” and “Elephants.”  New numbers such as the sprawling “Sleep Forever,” the distorted “Senseless,” and the other ITMITC tracks sounded natural among mainstays such as the cathartic Beatles-esque “And I,” and the catchy “People Say.” The band certainly has a knack for creating diverse and captivating set-lists – my only possible complaint was that Church Mouth went unrepresented and my personal favorite, Censored Colors, went underrepresented.

Each rearrangement of their tracks reinvigorated the set and not once did the audience suspect Portugal. The Man of not giving its all. Chief songwriter/lead guitarist/vocalist John Gourley’s distinctive voice and classic Gretsch guitar sounded as strong as ever while Zach Carothers swung his bass around as if the plot of Speed 3 centered on his bass’ movement.

The transformation of Portugal. The Man from album to the live setting is astounding. It is a breath of fresh air that the band doesn’t play it safe on the road and doesn’t resort to tired arrangements of tired numbers in a world in which far too many bands steamroll through uninspired arrangements. If Portugal. The Man is in your area (and they certainly will be with their extensive touring) then it is your duty to catch the metamorphosis.


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