After having waited over two years to see Porcupine Tree in concert, the moment finally arrived this past Tuesday as PT opened the tour for their newly released album The Incident right here in Seattle.
For me, the story of the wait is a simple, but also a frustrating one. You see, like most of America, up until very recently I hadn't discovered this amazing band. In fact, I missed their last stop here in Seattle on their tour behind the 2007 album Fear Of A Blank Planet by mere days. By the time I heard that album, Porcupine Tree were long gone. Hence the two-year wait for a return visit, as I meanwhile immersed myself in the band's rather substantial back catalog.
So the moment finally came tonight — and there is both good and bad to report. I'll get to the bad part first.
Unfortunately, I can't post a setlist here because of the songs they played during the second set — and yes for you fans out there who have tickets, they do play two sets — I only knew about three songs. For hardcore fans, this will no doubt be good news, as Porcupine Tree dips rather deeply into the vaults for the songs which comprise the latter part of the show.
For recent fans like me however, this meant hearing pretty much next to none of my personal favorites. There was no "Waiting," no "Dark Matter," and certainly no "The Sky Moves Sideways."
In fact, even when they surprised me with songs off of Fear Of A Blank Planet in the second set — there was no title track , and only half of "Anesthetize," the eighteen minute opus from that album. In honesty though, given that song's length, and the fact that PT had a new double album to cover, I was actually surprised to hear that one at all. — albeit in an abridged version. Truth be told, between the surprise of hearing it at all, and the ferocious way it was played, I've got no complaints whatsoever.
The only other minor bitch here was how my tickets — which were purchased through the fan club — were handled. It was basically an unorganized clusterfuck, which in the end proved completely unnecessary.
The whole point was to get a wristband allowing early access — when the seats ended up being reserved anyway. No complaints about the seats — they were 7th row aisle. Waiting for over an hour after the advertised time we were supposed to get them is another story altogether, though. It was a whole lot of waiting for what proved to be nothing. The good news is I met a lot of very nice people standing in line.
But with that now out of the way, this was a great show.
As expected, Porcupine Tree opened with the fifty five minute title track and centerpiece of their great new album, The Incident. Hearing this thing performed live is truly an amazing experience. For me the highlight was Steven Wilson's incredible guitar solo during the "Time Flies" segment, but the entire band sounded amazing — in particular second guitarist John Wesley (who plays a crucial role in recreating this complex album live) and especially monster drummer Gavin Harrison.
Following the performance of the disc-long opus that is The Incident, PT took a short break and then returned for a second set. For hardcore fans who have seen this band many times, the second set was probably a real treat as it leaned heavily on obscure, rarely played songs like "Russia On Ice," for example.
For me, while I was hoping to hear songs I've only recently discovered like "Waiting" and "Sentimental," what I did hear was so good I quickly ran out of reasons to bitch. In the case of "Sentimental," the band went for the Nil Recurring alt-version of the song (which is called "Normal" on that E.P.), which gave Steven Wilson a rather sweet showcase for his acoustic guitar talents. Plus, I got to hear the gorgeous song "Lazarus" from Deadwing, which was another unexpected, but quite pleasant surprise.
From Fear Of A Blank Planet came a rather out-of-the-blue, and quite frankly rather oddly shortened version of "Anesthetize," as well as "Way Out Of Here." Not what I expected, but both sounded great. The lone song from the second disc of The Incident was "Bonnie The Cat," which to me seemed an odd choice — as I'd have much preferred to hear the beautiful "Black Dahlia" or "Remember Me Lover."
But if it sounds like I'm bitching here, I'm actually not. Not at all. This was an amazing show. In a lot of ways it reminded me of when I used to go to see Pink Floyd shows in the seventies hoping to get the hits, and instead seeing Floyd open the show with their latest opus, and maybe getting a few things I know in the second set. I admired them for that then, much as I admire Porcupine Tree now.
If this tour plays anywhere near you, do not miss it.