By Bill Knowles
Girls in long coats and guys in benaie hats pay for their tickets and move inside the venue, alongside white-haired pensioners in smart clothes and the die-hard Jazz aficionados who make up Band on The Wall’s regular crowd.
This, perhaps, says something about Portico Quartet. The London-based quratet made their name as another of the new generation of “not-quite-jazz” bands to hit the scene, but have since shifted to a more powerful position, finding a solid place within the more experienced Jazz establishment. With the harmonic combination of hang (a versatile, steel drum-esque instrument, invented in the early 21st Century) and saxophone, they not only have found themselves a very unique sound, but one they continue to refine, becoming ever more sophisticated.
Inside, the quartet immediately illustrate this. There is silence in the room for only a second, and then they open the show with pace and precision. Milo Fitzpatrick’s double bass syncs with Duncan Bellamy’s percussion to form a looping backline, while Keir Vine’s hang and Jack Wyllie’s saxophone merge and thread themselves through the melodic and percussive base.
The result is an electrifying set, full of energy and invention. They build to mesmerising crescendos, and then drop back to their earlier minimalist lines with ease, and when they finally close the set, the applause pulls them back for encore. Portico Quartet have recently proved themselves to be virtuosic in the studio, and this live performance does not disappoint.