The Portugal. the Man that sold out New York City’s esteemed Terminal 5 on Friday, Sept. 27 is a lot different than the Portugal. the Man that once played to maybe 300 people at Brooklyn’s intimate Southpaw four years ago. Back then, a shy, long-haired John Gourley was forced to front the band while standing sideways in order to curb his stage fright. Those days are long gone. Having undergone a few lineup changes and vast musical permutations, the Portugal. the Man of today is a more focused, confident band whose live show rivals the best of them.
September 27 marked Portugal. the Man’s inaugural U.S. stop on their Fall 2013 tour. This tour is in support of the Danger Mouse produced, “Evil Friends,” which was released on June 14. The band has effectively found a niche on this remarkable new record with their brand of pop and hip-hop infused rock. Their show at Terminal 5 was a victory lap of sorts in celebration of their current musical successes. To be able to witness the magic of over a decade of passionate work by this ever-changing band was nothing short of inspiring.
British alternative dance band Crystal Fighters were the openers and perfectly set up the night’s energetic tone. They were a refreshing celebration of life and positivity that radiated throughout the entire venue. Highlights from their set included “You & I” from their latest “Cave Rave” and “Plage” from their debut album, “Stars of Love.” Their music runs the gamut of folk, dance, rock, synthpop, and techno all set off by tribal rhythms. The band’s engagement with the crowd also made their set a genuinely unifying experience.
From the moment Portugal. The Man took the stage it was a continuous jam session that spanned mostly the latter half of the band’s discography. Songs from 2011’s “In the Mountain, In the Cloud” and “Evil Friends” comprised the majority of the setlist. They opened up with their massive single, “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.” That glistening synth riff and huge drum beat captivated the audience right from the get-go. Standouts from their newest album like “Modern Jesus,” “Creep in a T-Shirt,” and “Atomic Man” all trumped the recorded versions in comparison. There were brand new live jams or instrumental solos that breathed new life into these songs. The enormous breakdown of “Atomic Man” was particularly impressive because it proved that even with their more straightforward sound of late, Portugal hasn’t completely lost their edge.
It was the surprises, though, that really attributed to the magic of this show. From an unexpected cover of “Day Man” from FXX’s TV show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” to a rousing rendition of Etta James’ classic “I’d Rather Go Blind,” Portugal. The Man proved that they are a multifaceted band that won’t be pigeonholed into any specific musical genre.
There was so much creativity and effort that went into tying the show together that the sense of musical unity that came across made watching a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Each jam had a place and a purpose. Songs flowed brilliantly into each other which made it seem like they were written to do so. There were even recurring musical themes which glued the whole show together. The Beatles’ covers that they mashed up with their own songs were genuinely stirring moments of musical beauty. These are all a testament to the band’s continued devotion to creativity. And, if this show is any proof then that creative star doesn’t seem to be burning out anytime soon.
Check out the full setlist below!
Purple Yellow Red and Blue
All Your Light (Times Like These) / A Kilo
People Say / Don’t Let Me Down
Guns & Dogs
Sea of Air
Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now)
When the War Ends
Hip Hop Kids
I’d Rather Go Blind
Creep in a T-Shirt
Purple Yellow Red and Blue
The Devil / Helter Skelter
Sleep Forever / Smile / Hey Jude