Portugal. the Man and Vance Joy, December 14th, The Peabody Opera House.
Portugal. the Man had one of the best years of any alternative rock band in 2017. When they played at the Pageant in June, it was a solid show. Given that the band released their new album that week, it was a bit disappointing to not hear more new material. Whatever reason the band chose not to breakout more songs in the summer, those choices remained now. Honestly, it feels wrong to complain about lack of new songs given my disdain for Muse setlists that largely ignore their past. Woodstock is so good, I just want to hear more of it live.
With that being said, between opener Vance Joy, and Portugal. the Man it was a night of some of the hottest tunes of 2017. Joy packed his set with an ease and enthusiasm that was as endearing as his music. “Fire and the Flood” kicked off the set in memorable fashion with trumpets welcoming the crowd.
He acknowledged that many of his songs are love-based, but right now, why not focus on the things we love from time to time. “Georgia” was a real highlight with Joy taking the spotlight for the majority, making the best presentation of both his guitar and vocal skills. Closing song “Lay It on Me” peaked at number 4 on the Billboard US Alternative Songs chart this year, and will be featured on his new album, Nation of Two, when it’s released in February 2018. It feels most similar to the opener in its heavy trumpet chorus but really gets the feet moving.
Portugal. the Man. Only broke the record for the most weeks spent at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Alternative Songs airplay chart as of Dec. 9th. “Feel It Still” was the track of the Spring, Summer, Fall and now Winter. No joke, they played it twice at the Pageant appearance. When it comes on the radio, I still don’t change the channel. That’s impressive as hell.
The show was largely similar to the previous show’s setlist. Both sets featured the same number of Woodstock songs if you count “Feel It Still” twice in June. “Noise Pollution” and “Live In the Moment” were great additions, and the later has recently entered the Billboard charts itself. Oddly, several moments took me back to other shows this year. The band came out with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica, who visited Busch Stadium shortly before Portugal. the Man. “Another Brick in the Wall” harkened back to Roger Waters at Scottrade Center at the end of May.
This was a show to end the year for St. Louis alternative rock fans. Whether you were a long time Portugal. the Man fan, or a new fan who saw Miley Cyrus lipsync “Feel It Still” on Jimmy Fallon, there was something here for you. Hopefully newer fans catch on to favorite tracks like “Atomic Man,” “All Your Light” and “So American.” 2018 looks bright for Vance Joy as he begins the cycle Portugal. the Man is riding so high on for the entirety of 2017.—Bruce Matlock