On a dark and dreary Tuesday night in January the genius of Steven Wilson paid a visit to Bristol in the form of a spellbinding live show.
Wilson would be the first to suggest that his music carries qualities that could intensify the January blues rather than lift them, depending on the mindset of the listener. Introducing ‘Routine’, he described how his manager declared the song to be “the most miserable song he had ever heard in his life”. On the contrary, ‘Routine’ was far from the depressing dirge it had been set up to be. Israeli singer, Ninet Tayeb, joined Wilson on stage to sing it and moved the audience so much as to earn herself a standing ovation once it finished. This was just one of the many highlights of what was a truly special evening.
The show comprised of two sets. The first was a complete performance of Wilson’s most recent full-length album, ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ Played in sequence, the monster concept piece was accompanied by projected visuals and 5.1 surround sound audio effects throughout which helped narrate and immerse the audience in its story. The album is without doubt Wilson’s finest achievement to date (read our review here) and somehow manages to feel even more powerful in a live setting.
As well as promoting ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’, Wilson has more recently released an 37-minute interim album, ‘4 ½’, and performed three songs from it during his second set of the evening. The standout number was the instrumental, ‘Vermillioncore’ during which a semi-permeable screen descended from the ceiling to half-mask the band. Striking video sequences were projected onto the screen whilst separate effects beamed out from the television screen behind the musicians, creating a stunning cinematic experience. Forget your woes of missing out on the likes of Pink Floyd and Genesis in their hey-day, Steven Wilson has mastered the art of theatrical rock performance and is an act that has to be seen to be fully believed and appreciated.
The recent passing of the legendary David Bowie was remembered by a cover of one of his many classic songs, ‘Space Oddity’. Wilson performed a sparse duo with Tayeb which touched the hearts of all who witnessed it.
Wilson’s tour continues on until mid-year and is a must-see live event. The first set is worth the ticket price alone and the chance to see live renditions of Porcupine Tree and Storm Corrosion tunes alongside other gems from his solo career is a real treat. Bouncing about the stage like a hyped-up teenager and regularly bursting into opinionated rants on the music industry and youth culture between songs accentuated the strong and likeable personality of one of the world’s most exciting rock stars today. Flawlessly captivating.
A truly immersive audio-visual spectacle. Powerful, captivating and moving. Must-see!