Review: Portugal. The Man at The Danforth Music Hall

23 August 2017 / by Nam-An Dinh (author)
John Gourley on guitar (photo: Nam-An Dinh)
John Gourley on guitar / (photo: Nam-An Dinh)

Fresh off the June release of Woodstock, their 8th full length album, Portland's alternative rock band Portugal. The Man dropped by The Danforth Music Hall on August 17, the first of two sold-out Toronto shows, as part of their Summer 2017 tour.  Though the band had stopped by the city earlier in the summer, playing a set at Fork York during Field Trip, it had only been a short day time set. Returning this time as a headliner meant they could play late into the night, and bring their full bag of visual tricks.  

Despite rainy weather all day long, by the early evening, a long lineup could be seen forming outside The Danforth Music Hall, waiting for the doors to open.  While people braved the wet weather outside, the band was treated to a little surprise inside the venue.  Their hit single "Feel It Still" had reached Gold status in Canada, and they were being presented with their Canada Gold award plaques.  

Sackville, New Brunswick's Partner opened the night, bringing their loud, catchy, hook-laden garage rock sensibilities to the stage. Between the heavy riffs, melodic guitar solos, and witty banter between songs, Partner got the crowd pumped and ready for the headliners.  

As the rest of the hall filled up, the lights dimmed and "Unchained Melody" began to play.  As soon as the band took the stage, they launched into their opening song: Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall".  As the opening jam picked up steam, it blended seamlessly into "Purple Yellow Red & Blue".  

The band made equal use of visuals to give their audience an immersive experience.  Trippy psychedelic images were projected onto a huge screen behind the band.  Instead of the usual chitchat between songs, the band opted to project this onto the screen instead. Messages such as "On the count of three, yell out your requests.....nope, sorry, don't know that one" flashed behind the band as they launched from one song to the next, taking advantage of the extra time usually reserved for banter.  

Though the continuous non-stop music did feel a little tired at a few points during their 90 minute set, the audience loved the performance and hall was full of energy for the duration of the show.  With the room dancing and moving, and at one point even a crowd surfer making an appearance, the band launched into their last song of the set.  Starting the night with a cover, they came full circle and closed off with one more:  Oasis's "Don't Look Back in Anger".  As the entire audience sang along, it was hard not to get swept up in the moment.  

Briefly leaving the stage and a crowd that would not stop cheering, they would return only moments later and play a two song encore, launching into "Number One" and finally closing out the night with "Atomic Man".  


The author

Nam-An Dinh

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