ATP - I'll Be Your Mirror - Curated by Portishead
added: 27 Jul 2011
// gig date: 23 Jul 2011
reviewer: Michael Iveson
With views across London and its history of live music Alexandra Palace is the perfect setting for the now well established ATP crowd. I'll Be Your Mirror is the sister event of All Tomorrows Parties its name derived from the B-side of The Velvet Undergrounds 1966 seminal release. As with the other ATP festivals there is a good mix of music, cinema, art, merchandise, people etc.
As the saying goes 'you are what you eat' and DD/MM/YYYY are a case in point, like an Iceland Pizza they have the outward appearance of something quite tasty. Unfortunately the base which is crispy and hot on the outer edge is soggy and half baked toward centre and the meat turns out to be scrapings off the factory floor. Ok so DD/MM/YYYY aren't terrible, your standard alt indie band. There just wasn't much that was engaging about them and they sounded 5 years out of date treading a well worn path. The next band, Foot Village, were truly terrible in fact they were difficult to watch. Contrived and cringe worthy it was akin to the sensation you get from seeing a leg break and the bone poke through. Four members in the band all drumming and one occasionally jumping around shouting. Foot Village are just too try hard and unintentionally perhaps have managed to encapsulate everything annoying about current trends in music, exit me.
This however is part of the reason why ATP works, curated by a band or individual you get an eclectic mixture of the influences and indulgences of that particular curator. Having acts like Doom, Swans, Liars, Black Roots and Company Flow adds to the whole impression of what Portishead (this years curators) are about.
Having initially been introduced to Company Flow through EL-P as a Definitive Jux artist, their legendary status is something that I have been constantly aware of. So the chance to see EL-P joined on stage with MR LEN and Bigg Jus was too good to miss and they didn't disappoint, proving that a DJ and two MC's on stage can be thoroughly entertaining and not just concerned with posturing and mundane lyrics.
What can I say about PJ Harvey that hasn't already been told? She is obviously a very talented artist, dressed up for a pagan ritual in flowing black and feathers she backs up what is clearly a fantastic new album with a well performed set consisting mostly of songs off 'Let England Shake' and what can be better than a backing band consisting of Mick Harvey, Jean-Marc Butty and John Parish? Very cool indeed! Ok there is of course Grinderman………
With Warren Ellis and Nick Cave fighting it out for best individual performance Grinderman consist of a caliber that is hard to compete against. With pink drums, long hair and beards, loud rock music and oozing sex appeal I think all the women in the audience were looking at their men in utter disappointment! Kitchenette has to be the highlight of a set filled with….. highlights. Cave's at times manic performance of the song being both convincing, comic and disturbing. When not strangeling his guitar Cave was off seducing girls by sheer force of presence.
The second day of the festival was at this point well underway and it started on a better note too, due in part to the lack of on stage compound fractures. With a giant cue for Explosions the easier and probably more headache friendly option seemed to be S.C.U.M. Having been around for a while they have evolved into an eclectic outfit consisting of Velvet Underground, Nick Cave and the Wainwright family to name a few influences of sound and style. With a charismatic attempt at a cross between Jagger and Morrissey, singer Thomas Cohen proved the perfect tonic for Sunday morning.
I can remember seeing Beach House at what I think was their first ATP festival in Minehead, at the time they had just released Devotion and were manning their merchandise table with free Beach House cup cakes for anyone buying a copy of the album. Things have certainly changed for them in the time since then, their third release long under their belts and a huge allegiance of fans basking in their echo drenched sounds filling the Great Hall, the days of the free confectionary are over!
Opening their set with a great cover of 'End Of The World' by Skeeter Davis and later Nirvana's 'Love Buzz' Geoff Barrow's project fronted by Anika proved to be the very captivating. With Nico-esque aloofness she has the look and attitude nailed. The band consisting of Beak> are set up to produce a slightly uncomfortable listening experience which leans on the 60's girl group sound. The continued involvement of Portishead members in such a variety of projects including a new score to The Passion Of Joan Of Arc confirms their continued relevance in music and justifies their selection as curators for IBYM.
This is cemented with them headlining both nights of the weekend to a packed out Great Hall of enthusiastic and appreciative fans. Playing material from across their three albums, none of which sounds dated and accompanied by beautiful visuals, they deliver a crisp and well produce show. This isn't to say that they are resting on their laurels with the band eventually giving up on a new song after 5 attempts. Beth Gibbons's vocals are as enchanting as ever and I think with time permitting she would have thanked every member of the crowd individually displaying a real appreciation and humbleness not often evident with a band of their stature.
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