With Bruce Soord
On 12 November 2016, I saw Steven Wilson perform with Bruce Soord (of The Pineapple Thief). This was my fourth time seeing Steven Wilson, the most recent being last year, and the third time seeing him as a solo act. This was also the first time that I saw him without the support of a new studio album (though an interim release was pushed at the beginning of the year).
Bruce Soord is best known for his work with The Pineapple Thief, but for his support of Steven Wilson, he truly was a solo act. He was playing much of his music on a loop live (the way that Reggie Watts works, if you are familiar with him at all), including providing percussion from small hand instruments or by simply slapping his guitar. Bruce Soord is someone that I am not super familiar with but I was impressed with his performance as well as his humor and modesty.
Steven Wilson surprised us first by announcing that he was going to be playing the entire “hand.cannot.erase.” album from front to back. Normally, when I see him, he will play most or all of the most recent album, but typically it is either non-sequentially or at least non-consecutively. It was nice hearing a few of the songs that were missed from the previous tour. There was a backdrop that accompanied the entire set, which was super cool. “Routine” was certainly a tearjerker, and I made mention of it last time he was here as well as including it in an article about music for sad times but I will include the video again for this arrticle.
The band took a short break and returned to do a number of solo songs as well as some songs from the Porcupine Tree days, as the likelihood of the band reconvening seems rather low in recent interviews I have witnessed. Some of the Porcupine Tree songs featured were “Dark Matter”, “Lazarus”, “Don’t Hate Me”, and “Sleep Together”.
Another one of the songs featured was the ever creepy “Index”. I would like to include the original version as well as a video that shows what the song is like performed live because there are some significant differences.
There were a couple songs from the “4 1/2” release as well. This was especially important as commentary because Steven Wilson discussed the decay of pop music and the implications it has in the world. He talked about The Beatles, David Bowie, and Prince and how in each of their respective decades were artists who would push the envelope of music and create new sounds while still being at the forefront of popular music. His commentary suggested that pop music these days is rather banal and derivative in order to be able to achieve any kind of success. “The Sound of Muzak” was an example given. It was a Porcupine Tree that has all of the dressings of a pop song but is played in a 7/8 time signature just to go against the grain a little. Steven Wilson has always enjoyed doing that king of thing. The lyrical content of the song is, of course, ironic and tongue-in-cheek in nature.
In terms of the “4 1/2” release, Steven Wilson posited that because we have seen the frequency of album releases decline significantly (twice a year in the 1960s, once a year in the 1980s, every two years in the 1990s, every three years in the early 2000s, and now some bands like A Tribe Called Quest waiting 18 years), that aritsts are less likely to take risks. He said that you could release a completely experimental album in the past and that if it was shit, no one cared because another album was just around the corner. I found some validity in that. He also praised Prince as being the greatest live performer of all time and then they played a cover of “Sign of the Times”.
Finally, he concluded with the song that he said is his personal favorite that he has recorded. That one is “The Raven That Refused to Sing”.
The performance from Steven Wilson was nearly three hours long and it was a great one. Every time he comes I have an amazing time and this time was no different. Next week is the Epica/Fleshgod Apocalypse/Arkona/The Agonist concert and the following two weeks I will be looking at Soilwork’s body of work so stay tuned!