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Roseland NYC Live Live

4.7 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, November 10, 1998
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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Usually, groups wait until they've released at least three or four records before putting out a live album, but PNYC was too good an idea for Portishead to turn down. Recorded with a full orchestra on a cold, rainy day shortly after the release of their second record, Portishead, the project doubled as a live album and the soundtrack for a BBC documentary. In addition to being economical and perhaps lucrative, the disc demonstrates how sampled and sequenced music can be re-created in concert without losing any of the charm or dynamics of the original recordings. All it takes is a 22-piece string section, some horns, and a band whose tightness is exceeded only by its creativity. At times the performances on PNYC sound even more breathtaking and cinematic than Portishead's original recordings, as humming theremin, skittery scratching, and gliding strings mingle with stealthy guitar lines and sultry vocals. For Portishead, sour times seem like a distant memory. --Jon Wiederhorn
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 10, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: November 10, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Go Beat/London
  • ASIN: B00000DLV1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,901 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Normally I wouldn't post a review for an album that has over twenty perfectly credible reviews already, but I'm afraid something must be clarified: the songs on the PNYC live album are not "as good as" the album versions, as so many reviewers have said, but are in fact 30-70% BETTER than their studio counterparts (percentage varies for specific tracks). This mainly has to do with the intensity of the vocals. Maybe it's a natural side-effect of the live performance, maybe it's only a difference in volume, but to put it bluntly, it's hard to believe Beth Gibbons isn't singing with a sock over her face on "Dummy" and "Portishead" after hearing the insane amount of overtone, undertone, and just plain tone that come through on this recording. Whatever was sacrificed of Portishead's usual spooky, distant atmosphere by removing the muffler from Gibbons' voice is more than made up for by the emotion and clarity here. If you buy only one Portishead album this year (though i'd recommend two or three), this *is* the one to get.
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Format: Audio CD
Some people like this CD, some people didn't. I, personally thought it was one of the best albums I've ever heard. It doesn't really sound live at all, except when the audience cheers,(And when they messed up Roads by clapping all through it.) All of the songs sound as if something has been added to give them more depth. Beth's voice sounds even more beautiful than on the original recordings. If you're new to Portishead and you can't decide on what album to get, buy this one. It has songs from both Dummy and Portishead on it and they sound fabulous. This CD remains my favorite even though I've listened to it thousands of times.
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Format: Audio CD
First off, for a live album, the recording is outstanding. It's clear, balanced, and the acoustics are excellent. Obviously it's not on par with the ultra-produced "Dummy", but you have no right to expect better from a live performance.
Beth Gibbons's voice is much more fragile here. At the right emotional moments this can aid a song, but at other times you're trying to will her to hold a note she's straining for, such as in "Humming." There are, however, songs where she seems to be in her comfort zone, like "All Mine." But on the whole, the standard set in the studio albums just isn't reachable.
I was hoping the orchestra would be more prominently featured. The songs that make use of it definitely benefit, and you'll enjoy the horns in "All Mine" and the strings in "Only You." "Strangers" is the track where it really hits you, and I so dearly wish they had cut the electronic sounds from it entirely so I could fully enjoy it. The more popular songs don't fare as well. "Sour Times" should be skipped. It was an experiment, and I understand why they wanted to try it, but they never should have recorded it. It's barely recognizable in the bad sort of way.
The audience... I will never forgive them. They mostly stay out of it, but what they did to "Roads" was just criminal. The band had a beautiful set prepared for "Roads," and these escaped mental patients turned it into a clap-along. Yes, "Roads," one of the loneliest songs you can imagine, a clap-along. To this day my enjoyment of the studio recording is lessened due to the experience. Those people should have been sterilized immediately. If the preservation of beauty matters to you, skip that track, always.
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Format: Audio CD
It seems like it might not work at first, but Portishead's "Live: Roseland NYC" album is probably the most stunning and most original live electronica album. And the string orchestra enhances their songs in unexpected ways.

If Portishead's second album sounded like a creepy soundtrack to a Halloween horror movie, the string ensemble take the scary crescendos to a whole new level. Beth Gibbons sings a crooning alto similar to the James Bond singer Shirley Bassey. In the song "Cowboys," the orchestra resounds with a wave of dissonance that escalates to a frightening peak with the electric guitars amplifying the dark tension. Combine that with the squeeky turntable scratches, and the band sounds like a deadly mix of James Bond mystery with electric mayhem.

And believe it or not, there are plenty of smooth and sassy James Bond-style orchestrations. The blaring trumpets and strings in "All Mine" turns the copa cabana song into a smoky, jazzy scene, with guitars to electrify the atmosphere.

Even though the live set begins with songs from their less popular second album, there are still plenty of fantastic mixes of songs from their debut album to spare. The high-pitched screeches of the violins in "Mysterons" transform the electronica song into a soundtrack from an Alfred Hitchcock horror film. "Glory Box" sounds even sassier and sexier with actual strings to back up Gibbons' voice and the funky DJ scratcher. And if Portishead fans thought "Sour Times" sounded cool, just wait until they hear the adrenaline-filled crescendo of strings, organs, drums, guitars and DJ scratches, combined with Gibbons' wailing at the end.
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