Saturday, 10 October 2009

Porcupine Tree - London Hammersmith Apollo - 9th October 2009

Porcupine Tree have been waiting a long time to play venues this big, venues that truly fit their grandiose model of modern progressive rock. Led by arguably the most creative man in music today, Steven Wilson, they are promoting their fine new record 'The Incident' with a world tour that has already stopped off at various venues across the USA. This however is something of a homecoming show for them. Wilson was born in Kingston-Upon-Thames and raised in Hemel Hempstead while keyboard player Richard Barbieri was also born in Britain's capital. Porcupine Tree have also managed to sell out this gig, which is undeniably impressive for a band well under the mainstream radar, although they may have been helped in the fact that the seats are all in for tonight's gig. This gives the show a rather static and uninvolving feel to it, especially during the first half (which is a full performance of the 55 minute song-cycle that is 'The Incident').

However the performance of the band, augmented live by guitarist John Wesley, is incredible. Every single note is peformed perfectly and Wilson's vocals are also spot on. The show also comes backed by some stunning visuals from acclaimed Danish artist Lasse Hoile, ensuring that even when the band is noodling through the quieter bits that there is still plenty to look at. The audience are clearly, for the most part, enthralled, despite the occasional person getting up to go to the toilet (an event which is always extremely conspicuous at an all seated gig). The epic that is 'Time Flies' probably gets the best reception, particularly Wilson's solo which would fit in perfectly well amongst Gilmour's finest. After the wonderfully melancholic 'I Drive The Hearse' the band leave the stage and take a ten minute break before returning with some of their best loved tracks from the last few years. 'The Start Of Something Beautiful' is followed swiftly by an abbreviated 'Russia On Ice' and an excpert from 2007's epic 'Anesthetize'. This three song run represents the highlight of the show and by the time the band exit from the stage once more with 'Bonnie The Cat' the audience has become fully aware of Porcupine Tree's excellence as a live act, if they weren't already.

An encore arrives in the form of 'The Sound Of Muzak' and 'Trains', which of course get its customary huge singalong reception. With the promise of another London gig next year ringing in their ears a load of very happy progheads (an interestingly diverse crowd with an age range from early teens to 65+) leave Hammersmith with big grins on their faces. A major feather in PT's live cap.

Porcupine Tree - 9/10

The Incident
i. Occam's Razor
ii. The Blind House
iii. Great Expectations
iv. Kneel and Disconnect
v. Drawing the Line
vi. The Incident
vii. Your Unpleasant Family
vii. The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train
ix. Time Flies
x. Degree Zero of Liberty
xi. Octane Twisted
xii. The Seance
xiii. Circle of Manias
xiv. I Drive the Hearse
The Start of Something Beautiful
Russia on Ice (first half)
ii. The Pills I'm Taking
Strip The Soul / .3
Bonnie The Cat
The Sound of Muzak

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