The rise and rise of Portabello

After bobbing along to a promotional copy of the band's debut album Once Around the Sun for over a month before its release, it was an understatement to say that I was a little more than excited to be going to see Portabello perform live.

And so, with the band members familiar and the song lyrics learned, I went down to the Roc Bar for the band's album launch party.

Combined with the release of the radio single Slowglass, I think it's safe to say that Once Around the Sun will put Portabello firmly on the music map. With their fresh new take on the indie rock genre, they look set to hit many an appreciative ear this coming year.

Portabello's music has been compared to the work of such multi-million selling artists as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Gray and Jeff Buckley; their eclectic blend of sounds is reflected in their backgrounds and with a wide range of influences, the musical four-piece draw from all the right sources.

Front man and founding member Declan Corcoran arrived in the UK to complete his study at university. The 26 year-old originally from Kerry in Southern Ireland performed in a wide range of classical, rock and folk groups and even tried his hand at busking in Dublin before he arrived in Leeds. His vocals and song-writing draw very much from his Irish roots.

Rhythm guitarist Tim Canfer came to Leeds in 1995 to study at university. He ran his own funk-based projects before meeting base guitarist Luke Slowen. In 1998 both joined forces with Declan to form the beginnings of Portabello.

After two years of potential band members coming and going, summer 2000 saw the arrival of Mark Staton. The 24 year-old drummer from Scarborough had was just what the remaining three had been looking for to complete the unique sound and unite the group. Within three months, the band had redefined the very essence of their musical ideas into a much more melodic rock and precision funk sound and released their first EP.

On the release of their next single Snow Monster on the Internet label peoplesound.com, Portabello were propelled to new heights. The band signed with Armchair Records in 2001 and immediately started putting pen to paper and notes to bar for their debut album.

This has finally got its release in Borders book and music stores in Leeds, York, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Liverpool and Brighton, Dublin and even Paris. Depending upon its reception, the band are hoping for a nation-wide release towards the end of the year.

Declan's hypnotising voice and song-writing style put him very much on a par with Paul Weller and he often displays a similar vocal-power to Ocean Colour Scene's Simon Fowler.

The album ranges from loud, energetic funky rock songs to more mellow and soulful numbers and all are great for slow building to the pounding rock chorus' perfect for singing out hard and loud. A number of songs on the album were recorded live at Leeds' the New Roscoe, and Portabello have played live gigs at Leeds' Hi-Fi, Dr Wu's, The Wardrobe, The Cockpit, Milo's as well as popular clubs in Dublin and London. Probably one of their most considerable achievements is the securing of regular guest slots at London's prestigious Kashmir Klub, where they perform alongside the likes of Sheryl Crow and Annie Lennox.

Starting in Leeds on May 3, Portabello will be commencing a live tour across the UK, and are also in the process of securing festival dates in the US for the Summer. And rather than just being another one of these carbon-copy bands we are so used to seeing come and go, Portabello's ambition is so strong and their funky sound so unique and innovative that you can expect to see them go a lot further than merely once around the sun.

John Wilson. Picture: Chris Christodoulou

John Wilson swings into Harrogate