Live: Steven Wilson @ Billboard – 02/10/13

For those of you who don’t know Steven Wilson or much about his work, like myself before his gig on Wednesday night, then you are missing out on some truly amazing music.Steven Wilson is considered a god of progressive rock; being at the helm of Porcupine Tree gives you a certain amount of kudos in the world of rock. He is a virtuoso. His knowledge of music, arrangements and eclectic mix of instruments and genres is admirable. He is a singer, guitarist, keyboardist and producer—a man of many talents. The fact that he makes it all sound so amazing, especially when his songs generally go over eight minutes, is incredible.There wasn’t a support band, which surprised me at the beginning, but once Wilson and his band hit the stage I was put at ease. The band played all six tracks off his latest record The Raven That Refused To Sing. The tracks all have supernatural elements to them and tell engaging stories based on different people and their problems.“The Pin Drop” was a powerful track, even if Wilson forgot a line of the lyrics during his performance. But “The Watchmaker” was the clear standout, with its powerful wall of sound and the use of a curtain placed in front of the band to illuminate Wilson further. Wilson’s thoughtful and passionate lyrics were highlighted, and his voice was quite breathtaking—melodically he is as soulful as ever.Wilson’s backing band is also extremely talented. The keys player was spot on with his timing. Reedist Theo Travis was flawless on the saxophone, delivering jazzy, semi-frantic notes. His flute work was relaxed and complimented the more subdued moments in songs. Wilson’s occasional banter between every two or three songs was always engaging and often humorous when he dealt with hecklers. Wilson shifts between hauntingly beautiful and poignant songs about love, relationships and the past, and songs inspired by or about serial killers. Three of his best tracks from Grace For Drowning (2011) were some of the absolute best moments on the night. “Postcard” is as bleak and depressing as a song can be; “Index” is a disturbing track about a serial killer, with kilter timing and background sound effects scattered throughout; and “Raider II” is another track that is deeply unnerving with lyrics relating to the American serial killer Dennis Radar.The visuals in the backdrop were quite amazing, each reflecting something unique about each track as it was played. The clip during “Index” was particularly impressive with its creepy mannequins, shadows and images of spiders. This was definitely a gig that delivered so much more than I expected. Between the great songs, the performance and the visuals in the background, the show was mesmerising. The fact it lasted almost two and a half hours is a whole other positive. You must see Steven Wilson live if you love prog Matthew NaqviPhoto by Naki Kouyioumtzis

October 4th 2013
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