PORTUGAL. THE MAN w/ GOOD KID
@ HISTORY, TORONTO
NOVEMBER 15, 2023
Positivity and high energy surged through the air in Toronto’s east end last night with the arrival of Portugal. The Man. This night marked one of two near sold-out shows at History in the city’s Queen Street East area. With the recent success of their ninth album, Chris Black Changed My Life, along with an arsenal of eight previous releases, the band was not without crowd-pleasing material poised to fill the night.
Local indie rockers Good Kid took to the stage first to warm up the slowly filtering crowd. Surprisingly but not totally unexpected, many of those attending in the early stages of the night seemed very much into what the band was laying down. Good Kid’s fanbase proved their loyalty and were entertained by a selection of upbeat crowd-pleasers and calmer ‘love songs’ (as was noted by lead vocalist Nick Frosst). A subdued highpoint to the set was an audience-participation singalong that came together slowly but landed in a very sweet way once the crowd got more involved. This, along with the rest of the early performance set the mood quite nicely for what Portugal. The Man was about to unleash.
During the break the hall began to fill up quite quickly, clearly an indication of the strength of the band’s following. And true to Canadian concert scheduling standards, Portugal. The Man had a full stage setup ready to go right at the 9 o’clock mark and not a minute later. After a brief introduction and full land acknowledgement ceremony they were more than ready to entertain this wide-eyed audience.
With a cluster of hit singles, fan favourites and deep cuts, the energy that emitted from the stage was explosive and energetic. Singer John Gourley remained in full raincoat getup for the entire duration of the evening, a ‘costume’ choice that didn’t hinder his vocals nor his guitar finesse one iota. He and the rest of the band were spot-on for the entire performance, throwing down studio-grade output to an adoring crowd – song after song after song. Voices filled the air with the audience joining in along with well-known singles such as “What, Me Worry?”, “Feel It Still”, “Modern Jesus” and “Live In The Moment”. More recent releases off the new album were embraced by the crowd as well, as was displayed by energetic dancing and singing on the floor. A single cameraman floated around the stage all throughout Portugal. The Man’s set, transmitting low-grade VHS-style visuals directly onto a screen that filled the back of the stage. Along with an amazing audio performance, this evening was filled with strong visuals brought on from strategically placed cameras that highlighted each member of the band in dynamic and off-cuff ways. To note that the visuals matched the musical performance is an understatement, to say the least.
Finishing the set with a single song encore and a breath of exhaustion, Portugal. The Man left the stage and a fully satisfied crowd streamed back out into the streets of the city. There was no doubt that the night was a complete success, and Portugal. The Man left their mark with us in a truly magnificent way.
(Photography by Stephen Lussier)