Monday 8 July 2019

#129 PORTISHEAD - Bizarre Festival 1998 (Flac)

Bizarre Festival 1998 at Butzweilerhof, Cologne, Germany
August 21, 1998

The Bizarre Festival took place over three days in August 1998 from Friday 21st through to Sunday 23rd.

As well as Portishead's appearance on the first day, festival goers were treated to sets from Cornershop, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Green Day, Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey, Tindersticks and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Saturday featured Deftones, Goldie, Placebo, Afghan Whigs and the Cure. Sunday's hard rocking final day included Danzig, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, Queens of the Stone Age, Rancid & Therapy.

"The Bristol trio of Beth Gibbons, Geoff Barrow, and Adrian Utley have been making albums that dramatize the paradox of staying new yet original. It was easy, or at least easier, in the beginning:

1994’s Dummy swims in the sea of possibilities that emerge from self-discovery in a private context. Nothing like them had been heard before, and they seemed to know it. 

Barrow was a sound engineer and producer barely out of his teens: Inspired by hip-hop, and by Public Enemy especially, his percussion tracks strove for turbulence, precision, and density. Utley, a seasoned jazz guitarist 14 years his elder, had studied classical composers closely: his melodic gravity anchored the sonics in a higher register. Finally, there was Gibbons, a self-trained vocalist whose lyrics, while retaining the simplicity natural to song, were closer to poetry in their free-standing, serious tone. 

A word that frequently recurs on her Dummy lyrics is side: pretending inside, being doubled up inside, realizing why this side belongs to you, taking a look from our side. Her songs about love never overlooked its difficulty, how the barriers of selfishness and silence kept people apart: “But the thoughts we try to deny / Take a toll upon our lives / Struggle on in depths of pride / Tangled up in single lives.”

Emotionally speaking, Dummy was an ordeal. Musically, however, it was soothing even in its moments of menace. Hearing a beautiful voice over tasteful production, easy listeners delved no further; their interest was enough to turn Portishead into a band, and eventually a brand. Posh dinner parties and boutiques played Portishead. The new attention came as a shock, and perhaps a bit of an insult, to the band members. 

Like a plant releasing noxious chemicals to ward off pests, their second, self-titled 1997 album pushed forward harsher facets of their sound submerged during the first. Gibbons’s lyrics had always been covertly political, but now they were confrontational as well. The melodies went angular and somber. Utley and Barrow performed odd rituals in the pursuit of authenticity: They recorded their compositions on wax, subjected the records to wear and tear, and only then did they sample them. The efforts succeeded, but only to a point. They preserved their integrity, but only at the cost of flexibility; they had refitted their old style instead of arriving at a new one. 

Their touring culminated in a monumental live album, 1998’s Roseland NYC Live, but it also wore the band members down. Barrow and Utley got divorces; Gibbons fell ill. Everyone was drinking heavily. The only honorable choice remaining was to part ways for a time, and they took it." (Frank Guan, Vulture - May 2018)

This silver disc bootleg by Roach Records (UK, 1998) features eight tracks from their Bizarre festival set and a further six tracks comprising, three rehearsals and three live tracks from their 1998 UK appearances (possibly Glastonbury but unconfirmed.)

The Setlists FM site has twelve tracks listed, with these following 'Sour Times' - Humming, Cowboys, All Mine & Mysterons.

01. Half Day Closing
02. Over
03. Elysium
04. Glory Box
05. Roads
06. Western Eyes
07. Strangers
08. Sour Times
09. Wandering Star (Rehearsal 1)
10. Wandering Star (Rehearsal 2)
11. Mysterons (Rehearsal)
12. Sour Times
13. Roads
14. Strangers

tracks 1-8: Bizarre Festival 1998
tracks 9-11: Studio rehearsals
tracks 12-14: Live UK 1998 (possibly Glastonbury but not confirmed)

Beth Gibbons - Vocals
Geoff Barrow - Decks
Adrian Utley - Guitar
Dave McDonald - Engineer in band
Clive Deamer - Drums
Jim Barr - Bass
John Baggott - Keyboards
Andy Smith - DJ