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Portishead are an English band formed in 1991 in Bristol. The band is named after the nearby town of the same name, 8 miles west of Bristol. Portishead consists of Geoff Barrow, Beth Gibbons, and Adrian Utley, while sometimes citing a fourth member, Dave McDonald, an engineer on Dummy and Portishead.Portishead's first album Dummy was released in 1994. The credits of Dummy indicate that at this juncture, Portishead was a duo of Geoff Barrow and Beth Gibbons. Adrian Utley, who co-produced the album with Portishead (and who played on 9 of the tracks and co-wrote 8), became an official band member shortly after the album's release.
Despite the band's aversion to press coverage, the album was successful in both Europe and the United States (where it sold more than 150,000 copies even before the band toured there). Dummy spawned three singles: "Numb", "Sour Times", "Glory Box", and won the Mercury Music Prize in 1995. The success of the album saw the band nominated for Best British Newcomer at the 1995 Brit Awards. In 2003, the album was ranked number 419 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album cover features a still from the band's own short film To Kill a Dead Man.After their initial success, Portishead withdrew from the spotlight for three years until their eponymous second album, Portishead, was released in 1997. The album's sound differed from Dummy, characterised as "grainy and harsher." Three singles, "All Mine", "Over" and "Only You" were released, the first one achieving a Top 10 placing in the UK.In 1997, the band performed a one-off show with strings by the New York Philharmonic orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. A live album primarily featuring these new orchestral arrangements of the group's songs was released in 1998. There was also a long-form VHS video of the performance, and a DVD followed in 2002, with substantial extra material including many early music videos.In 1999, Portishead recorded the song "Motherless Child" with Tom Jones for his album Reload. For the next few years, the band members concentrated on solo and other pursuits. In February 2005, the band appeared live for the first time in seven years at the Tsunami Benefit Concert in Bristol. Around that time, Barrow revealed that the band was in the process of writing its third album. In August 2006, the band posted two new tracks on its MySpace page (called "Key Bored 299 03" and "Greek Jam"), described by Barrow as "doodles". Around the same time, Portishead covered Serge Gainsbourg's "Un Jour Comme un Autre (Requiem for Anna)" on the tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.On 2 October 2007, Portishead stated that the new album Third had been mixed and was nearly complete, and was due for release in early April 2008. The release was later pushed to 28 April. On 8 and 9 December 2007, the band curated the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England. The festival featured their first full live sets in nearly 10 years. They premiered five tracks from the new album: "Silence", "Hunter", "The Rip", "We Carry On", and "Machine Gun". On 21 January 2008, a European tour to support the album was announced, together with a headline spot at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on 26 April 2008, their only U.S. date on the tour.