"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."
Music better listened to alone
J. Manning | Salt Lake City, UT USA | 10/05/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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.I am not a fan of live albums, but I would say that Roseland is among the more worthwhile of them. Some of these songs are really enlarged in this context, and the rest are at least different enough to make the experience new. But definitely get the studio albums first."
Never Judge a Song Until You've Heard it Live
Corky | Ocean Springs, MS | 12/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
If you're going to own one live album make it this one..
Takis Tz. | InYourHead | 11/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You probably know the score with live albums. If the sound is bearable without needing to be under the influence of mind-bending substances, if the recording is decent, if the group was up to par without resorting to peculiar versions of their own songs without making them better, if the audience isn't screaming stuff reminiscent of the Jerry Springer show, and if the Hell's Angels arent involved in a brawl during the show (see Iggy Pop's classic 70s live album) then you might (emphasis on 'might') have a half decent album in your hands. This is totally, undisputably and unquestionanly NOT the case here. Because, this live album is so good it actually comes across better than Portihead's studio albums! Stunning as this might sound for a live recording it is nevertheless the truth. The reasons why this is true are intriguing. To start with, this the blending of a live classical orchestra and an electronic band. Which, of course, could've been another recipe for disaster (has been in countless of cases before with other more 'organic' bands) but it didnt. What in fact happened was that this concert demonstrated that the mix of classic and electronic music is one that can work wonderfully without harming the charm of the overall atmosphere. Furthermore, Portishead actually perform versions of their now well-known songs that are actually trippier than the originals. There's tons of psychedelia here to be had, and come to think of it, i wouldnt be able to name another album where a classical orchestra is involved where i could mention 'psychedelia'in the same sentence.
This is of course extra-rewarding. Portishead's songs when they are good they are brilliant. Some of them here, and especially the slightly less than brilliant ones are transformed to re-worked masterpieces.
I havent had the chance to see Portishead live yet, but If I'd see anything that comes remotely close to this performance I'd consider myself extremely lucky.
For the time being I'll stick with this."