Portico Quartet Plays Biggest Show, Plans U.S. Tour


Mercury-nominated modern jazz act Portico Quartet has launched its U.K. tour, which features its biggest headline show to date, and is planning a U.S. release and concerts.

The March 8 2,000-capacity show at the Barbican in London featured material from the U.K. act's sophomore album, "Isla" (Real World Records), as well as its 2007 debut "Knee Deep In The North Sea" (Vortex).

"Isla" is set for release in the U.S. in the first half of 2010 alongside planned live dates. The album was released in Europe Feb. 15 following its U.K. release in November 2009.

Portico Quartet first became known by busking to crowds on London's South Bank, and has since broken through to a bigger audience. It was one of the acts that re-recorded the opening sequence and appeared on Fox's "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special" documentary in January 2010.

Their debut, released in partnership with the East London Vortex Jazz Club venue where the band had a residency, was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize as one of the 12 best U.K. or Irish albums of the previous 12 months. The group went on to release its follow-up with Real World, and sign a publishing deal with Imagem.

With impeccable sound production, the four-piece proved itself well able to step up to a bigger stage with an adroit, hypnotic performance at the Barbican, during which each of the players impressed with virtuoso elements.

Tunes such as "Paper Scissor Stone" were received with a hushed reverence, followed by wild applause between songs. By the end of the set, fans were cheering the innovative grooves and haunting eastern sounds during the performance, and there was a clamor for merchandise as well as records after the show, which the band was on hand to sign.

Portico Quartet features drums, double bass, electronics and soprano and tenor saxophones, but is most easily identifiable by Nick Mulvey's performance on the hang, a Swiss-made instrument like a steel drum.

The band continues its 13-date U.K. tour on March 11 in Kendal, following a diversion to Turkey for a March 10 show at Istanbul Club Babylon.

The Barbican show was promoted by Serious. The tour launched in Swansea on March 5.


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