“Even among my catalog, this next song is particularly miserable.” Thus did Steven Wilson introduce ‘Routine’, providing a brief moment of levity before the band played one of the most heartbreaking songs in all of rock/pop music. It was the first of three times that tears formed in the corner of my eyes during this concert.
Living, as I do, in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have seldom had the opportunity to attend the performance of a progressive rock band in their prime. I’ve seen many artists in the twilight of their career, and more than a few at the outset, but seeing Steven Wilson and band at a time when they have been around long enough to be comfortable on stage, but not so long that the hunger is gone, was a rare and memorable pleasure.
From the outset, Steven and his band, (bassist Nick Beggs, drummer Craig Blundell, keyboardist Adam Holzman, and guitarist Dave Kilminster), showed themselves to be in fine form, as they opened with the opening tracks from Hand. Cannot. Erase. The initial melancholy (a portent of things to come) shifting seamlessly into a prog jam that allowed the entire band to demonstrate their skill (also a portent of things to come) and winding up with Wilson demonstrating his ability to write an intriguing and appealing pop melody (yet another portent of things to come).
Unironically garbed in an ABBA t-shirt, Steven Wilson was an energetic and engaging front man, his banter providing an upbeat counterpoint to the general sadness of the evening’s music. The stage was backed by a large screen that would provide imagery to accompany the evening’s musical offering.
After completing the rest of the Hand. Cannot. Erase. album, Wilson and Company took an intermission before returning to the stage for a smattering of his back catalog, including several Porcupine Tree tracks. After a brief encore, he then returned to discourse at length about Prince (and complain that all Prince tributes are of the same song) before playing a rocked-up version of ‘Sign o’ the Times’. After the Prince tribute, Wilson introduced ‘The Sound of Muzak ‘ as his “catchy song” that he hadn’t messed up the hook by adding an instrumental break down or strange times signatures (I guess 7/8 doesn’t qualify as a strange time signature). After ‘Muzak’, Steven introduced the final song of the evening as the best song he has written to this point. After seeing the moistened eyes all about me once the band concluded ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’, I don’t think many people present would have disputed the assertion.
Attending this concert reinforced the reasons why I love progressive rock: the musicianship, the appeal to both intellect and emotion, the camaraderie with other fans (it was a wonderful and enthusiastic crowd). But mostly, this concert left me walking away with a sense of awe and appreciation for Steven Wilson, modern progressive rock’s brightest star.
- First Regret
- 3 Years Older
- Hand Cannot Erase
- Perfect Life
- Home Invasion
- Regret #9
- Happy Returns
- Ascendant Here On…
- Dark Matter
- My Book of Regrets
- Harmony Korine
- Don’t Hate Me
- Sleep Together
- Sign O the Times (Prince Cover)
- The Sound of Muzak
- The Raven That Refused to Sing