Live Review: Portugal. The Man

12 November 2014 | 11:48 am | Mitch Knox

Portugal. The Man packs out another free gig.

More Portugal. The Man More Portugal. The Man

If the heaving mass filling out the Jubilee Hotel’s beer garden tonight is any indication, live music in Australia is nowhere near the dire straits some parties would have you believe. Sure, it no doubt helps that tonight’s performance by Alaskan prog-pop workhorses Portugal. The Man is free of charge, but it’s nice to think that, even if it weren’t, the space would still be stuffed with eager bodies ready to take receipt of the good times the band is here to deliver.

And deliver? Do they ever – from the opening strut of Hip Hop Kids, it’s obvious that this is a band that’s polished and comfortable with what they do. There are no hints of fatigue, disinterest or sloppiness that might betray the fact this is their second performance of the day – their earlier show at the Paddington Hotel apparently having sapped none of their seemingly boundless dedication or energy as they seamlessly transition into the early sing-along ebullience of Creep In A T-Shirt.

The set is littered with psychedelically-tinged jam-out segues, with one such passage leading us swaying into Someday Believers, which itself gives way to an In The Mountain In The Cloud-era cut, Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now). The crowd-pleasing Evil Friends follows before the band completes a non-stop stretch of smile-inducing jams, kicking off with their renowned cover of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Day Man before dropping into sway-fest So American and The Satanic Satanist opener, People Say.

Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujahs) marks a welcome lull in the frenzy, before frontman John Gourley and bass-playing BFF Zach Carothers led the crowd in a dizzyingly enjoyable sing-along of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger. It becomes harder and harder to believe this is a free show as the set wears on, such is the professionalism and effort on display.

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Said effort pays off in a big way, too, as late-set highlights such as Sea Of Air, Atomic Man, Waves and the simply huge gang vocals of Modern Jesus come one after the other as the band hit the hour-straight mark. It’s almost a perfect gig – almost. However, during “official” closer, Purple Yellow Red & Blue, which starts with a truly left-of-centre, but unquestionably slick, crowd-riling cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall, a brawl erupts in the front-centre-left corner of the crowd (somehow…) creating a truly bizarre scene, half melee, half party, while the band plays on to the rapturous affections of the wider crowd.

Either undiscouraged or unaware of the ruckus, Portugal. The Man repay the audience’s enthusiasm with a double encore – Senseless reinstates the peace, and by the time the last notes of the ethereal, swaying The Sun ring out, everyone’s so enthralled that the audience’s fevered cries for just “one more song” drown out the Jube’s resurgent house music long enough for the DJ to decide to meet them halfway and just play more Portugal on the PA to shut everyone up. Sometimes, you just can’t fight the vibe, and the vibe reigns heavily tonight.