What looked to be a miserable day in Sydney saw a glimpse of sunshine. It seemed to be getting darker earlier than usual and the queue went all the way down the alleyway beside the Metro to the other street and a fair way up it. Most sold out shows didn’t even have this big a crowd. The Metro Theatre was packed like sardines tonight and everyone was here for one reason; that being the man himself, Steven Wilson.
Starting right on time at 8:30pm joined with his band of brothers which included the blonde ponytailed bassist from the quirky Kajagoogoo, Nickolas Beggs, along with Dave Kilminster on guitar, Adam Holzman on keys and Craig Blundell on drums. Starting off the night with the first two songs off the recent album, First regret and 3 years Older, accompanied by a giant screen which at first showed windows reminiscent of the infamous Led Zeppelin‘s, Physical Graffiti album cover.
Wilson soon addressed the crowd informing us that tonight was going to be a long show and hoped nobody had plans to do anything else as he and the band were going to be on stage for two sets. The first being Hand.Cannot.Erase in its entirety, the second being a mixture of songs he has written. Always poking a stick at the crowd Wilson suggests, “If you don’t like the new album then…… fuck off. But come back later”. (For the second set)
The album seems it was made for the stage with constant goose bumps all night this wasn’t something one could erase from their memory no matter how hard they tried. The crowd were in awe as the band belted out the title track and Wilson with his dry British humour, cool stage presence and his endless hand gestures had his audience in the palm of his hands.
Wilson tells the crowd that he is going to tell us something about him we might not know and asks us if we know what that could be? One heckler shouts out your a Pom! The well-spoken frontman is quick to come back, stating, ‘well that’s not an opinion, is it?’ and then asks, ‘based on interviews and videos of him does he come across as a (pauses) miserable fuck?’ Everyone applauds in laughter then Wilson tells everyone, ‘Well I’m not. I’m actually the happiest person, explaining all his melancholy songs that he writes when he plays them he sends all that sadness to his audience. Then going on to the next track, apparently, the saddest song he has written, Routine informing us that Ninet Tayeb couldn’t be here but she is singing her part from an Apple computer somewhere on the stage.
The band were in fine form proving to be one tight group of talented musicians with an amazing performance of one of my favourites off the album that being Home Invasion and the merge into Regret #9 with the sound of Wilson‘s guitar and the keys of Holzman surreal at best. Ancestral and Happy Returns showed the Beggs and Blundell combo to be an absolute force, providing that progressive beat.
Wilson states that musicians usually address the audience as an individual; How are you? Like everyone is feeling the same or addresses the whole country; Australlllllia!!!! Then goes on stating that we are a ‘small subset of Australia. The small subset that likes his music’. Sydney was also a quiet crowd we were told, with Wilson coming to the conclusion that we must really be enjoying it.
Starting the second set with an older Porcupine Tree song, Dark Matter followed by Index, taken from Wilson’s second solo album, Grace For Drowning which comes across a lot heavier tonight, with an industrial, Skinny Puppy vibe to it. Lazarus, a Porcupine Tree track off Deadwing, which also shared the same song title as a song from the late David Bowie‘s final album Black Star is played in tribute.
Harmony Korine off Wilson‘s debut solo release is a crowd favourite and it is great to see another two Porcupine Tree songs, Don’t Hate Me off Stupid Dream and Sleep Together off the brilliant, Fear of a Blank Planet. It is the song in between that really shows the band to be the masters of prog. Instrumental Vermillioncore off the band’s latest 4 1/2 with the Beggs and Blundell combo standing out yet again, with the plummeting bass and beating of the drums. Wilson explains how in the 80’s bands would release an album or two a year and these days it turns to 2 then 4 then Tool and pauses…. Classic Wilson!
After an encore, a tribute is made to Prince with Signs of The Times, followed by The Sound of Muzak off my personal fave Porcupine Tree record, In Absentia. Closing off with the title track to Wilson’s last tour in Australia, that being The Raven That Refused To Sing. If there is one thing to take home tonight it is the fact that Steven Wilson is a musical genius and even though he jokes saying he releases too much music, we could never get enough.
Photography by Kim Rudner
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