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Porcupine Tree Live in Seattle

By Chris Slack, Contributor
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 @ 10:14 PM

Porcupine Tree, and That 1 Guy

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Doors didnít open until 8 PM, but I arrived at the venue shortly after 6 as I had an interview scheduled with Steven Wilson at 6:30. When calling the tour manager to confirm I found out that Iíd be talking to keyboardist Richard Barbieri instead. That threw me a little as a lot of my questions were tailored for Steven, however our little chat in the Seattle sun went pretty well, the interview can be found at http://www.gravemusic.com/. After the interview I dropped around a hundred dollars on PT CDs and a shirt, took them back to my car, then headed back to the venue to wait until the sold out show started.

When I last saw Porcupine Tree they co-headlined with Opeth at the Showbox, a venue that holds close to a thousand people. The venue for this show was considerably smaller, having a maximum capacity of 366 including the bar in the back. Because of this they couldnít have the multiple video screens and surround sound they used at other venues on the US tour. They sold out two consecutive nights at the Crocodile so hopefully they will be able to get booked at a larger venue on the second US leg of the Deadwing tour in October.

The opener was a strange one-man act called That 1 Guy and the Magic Pipe. His main instrument (the Magic Pipe) was a bizarre homemade creation built from steel pipe fittings and MIDI switches connected to a sampler and a host of other electronic gadgets. The two long sections of the Magic Pipe have single strings which That 1 Guy (AKA Mike Silverman) picks, plucks, hits with drumsticks and played with a bow. In addition to several triggered kick drum beaters he had several other wired instruments including a cowboy boot and a saw. That 1 guy put on a very odd, yet impressive performance I can only describe as a technoelectroorganic hodgepodge of sounds and vocals combined together to create actual music. Very interesting stuff, fans of truly unique music should do themselves a favor and check out That 1 Guy if he shows up in your neck of the woods. For more information on That 1 Guy and the Magic Pipe check out http://www.that1guy.com/.

After close to a thirty minute break Steven Wilson, Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, Gavin Harrison and John Wesley took the stage to a huge roar from the capacity crowd and started right out with the title track of their latest (and possibly greatest) album Deadwing with art and video playing on the single screen behind the band who didnít have much room on the tiny stage of the Crocodile. Stage lighting was practically nonexistent; while this lent well to the atmosphere it made photography (no flash permitted) quite challenging. Once the three songs allowed for photography were up I was able to relax a bit and simply enjoy the music rather than worrying about the amount of available light. Steven didnít speak much to the crowd except to introduce songs but no one seemed to mind, after all we were there for the music, something the band definitely delivered on. Much to my surprise I actually knew every song the band played despite their huge back catalogue, much of which I am not completely familiar with.

The material covered consisted predominantly of songs from Deadwing and In Absentia with a couple of older tracks thrown in; possibly so as not to alienate the long time fans of the band. Reports from the previous nightís show have indicated some issues with the sound, with a constant bass hum throughout the set. They must have gotten the kinks all worked out as I thought that the mix at this one was perfect; I havenít heard such clarity in a live performance for some time. The musicianship was also as close to perfect as possible but thatís to be expected with a band maintaining a consistent lineup for a long period of time. The highlight of the set for me was ďArriving Somewhere But Not Here,Ē my favorite song from the Deadwing album. Steven referred to it as ďA lesson on how to stretch the same three chords out for fifteen minutesĒ but the song is, of course, much more complex than that. A particularly interesting part of the song was John Wesleyís take on the second solo that was quite different than the studio version. All in all the set was a stellar performance and did not disappoint in any way. It could have been longer than the 90+ minutes that they played but what we got was well worth the money. Even without the state of the art audio/video they had at other venues the music spoke for itself.

As a side note the Porcupine Tree audience has got to be the most polite bunch of people Iíve ever had the pleasure of watching live music with. As someone who spends most of their concert time at metal/hardcore shows it was a breath of fresh air (literally) to be able to stand in front of the stage (no photo pit at the Crocodile) and not have to worry about my equipment or be constantly squashed. Very friendly indeed!

For more Porcupine Tree photos from this show check out http://www.mortado.com/gravemusic/live/060405porcupine/index.shtml.

For more info on Porcupine Tree check out their web site at http://www.porcupinetree.com/.

Porcupine Tree set list:

Sound of Muzak
Glass Arm Shattering
Arriving Somewhere but Not Here
Fadeaway (John Wesley on vox)
The Start of Something Beautiful
Blackest Eyes
Even Less

(Photos (C) Chris Slack, 2005)

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