REVIEW: The War on Drugs at Portsmouth Guildhall

The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs
Stefan Oldsal and Brian Molko of Placebo

Alternative rock act Placebo cancel Portsmouth show

Gordon Powell with his brother Jeff Powell at The Paradise Club in the 1990s.

‘He was a true Pompey legend and was loved by so many people’

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The War On Drugs on record are very good. Warmth, charm and no little talent pour from the speakers.

Satisfying in the same way a bag of chips eaten on a crisp, autumnal day at the end of the pier is satisfying.

Live the band is satisfying on a whole different level. The musicianship is amplified tenfold on stage. Adam Granduciel’s guitar solos are blistering, the rhythm section is more urgent, the horns of Jon Natchez are more soulful and the keyboards somehow more melodic. This is satisfying like a Michelin-starred meal with your loved one.

Whilst the set drew heavily from their current album A Deeper Understanding, there was still room for older tracks too. New songs like the Up All Night nestled alongside older songs like Under The Pressure (‘We don’t do that one anymore’ was Granduciel’s wry response when it was requested early on).

It turns out that, not only do they still do it, but they have reworked it into a near 20-minute set closer which sounds like the offspring of a battle between The Orb and Neil Young. Funky and folky. Dance music for those who don’t like dancing. The set should have ended here. It didn’t and the encore was well received but I could have left feeling happy after such a thrilling reworking of a favourite song.

I should also mention that those who arrived promptly tonight will doubtless have enjoyed the rather good support band: The Barr Brothers. This tight 5-piece sounded heavenly at times when their harmonies worked. They also get kudos for featuring a harp!