Concert Review Archive

 

Steven Wilson

Monday, 14th May 2012
Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium

Article and photos By Dave Baird

Following my interview with Steven that afternoon, I was very very keen to see the concert in the evening. Furthermore, the calibre of his touring band including Theo Travis, Marco Minneman and Nick Beggs made this a very exciting prospect indeed. Small doubt was cast in my mind after reading reviews of the previous tour, with some people saying it was overly artistic and a little boring; two hours of Bass Communion drones and weird visuals they reported. I arrived at 7:45 and indeed the aforementioned drones filled the hall to accompany B&W Lasse Hoile images projected onto the a gauze stage-cuirtain, but this all stopped at 20:00 when the show proper began. Maybe this had been going on since 18:00 and some had turned-up to subjugate themselves, who knows...

Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson What else struck me as I entered the hall was that the gallery had been curtained off, obviously the organisers hadn't expected too pany people. However, I think they underestimated the interest because as the hall filled up it was clear that there wasn't enough space to accommodate everyone comfortably; in fact there were people outside the doors when the gig started who couldn't actually enter as the entrances were so blocked. For photography there was no pit access (because of the stage-curtain I suppose), but I managed to position myself in front at the side of the stage, so I could shoot around the side of said curtain. However as it became more and more crowded it was clear I'd be unable to take very many shots that evening. I got lucky though, in removing myself from the hall a friendly security guard gave me access to the closed balcony, so easy to shoot, just a bit restricted on angles.

And what a show it was! You may have read reports that Steven's touring band is something special, this is an understatement to say the least. The bulk of the set list came from Steven's recent album Grace for Drowning with a handful of pieces from Insurgentes and one new track that had been written during the tour. This material is not very easy to reproduce in a live setting; Perhaps it's not the most incredibly technical music to play, but it's very atmospheric with a lot of unexpected changes and nuances, so requires a high level of coordination, confidence and trust between the players. Needless to say, the band pulled it off with aplomb, the only slight mistake being an errant guitar noise (from the excellent Niko Tsonev) during the quiet opening of Raider II.

Steven Wilson

Minneman was just incredible. I've been wanting to see him play since his appearance on the Spirit Carries On video of Dream Theater. Marco's style is very original - he appears to play with the minimum of effort and yet produces the most incredibly interesting patterns. I've seen many of the best drummers in the world during my time, but I have to say that Marco completely blew me away; not only because he's such an amazing player, but also because of his character behind the kit. He's a complete star. Bass player, Nick Beggs, I've been wanting to see for some time too, he's very much beloved of my comrades here at DPRP, Alison Henderson, and I still can't quite get over 80's pop band Kajagoogoo, but he's a bass monster, simple as that.

Steven Wilson Another player I've wanted to see for some time, having heard on many CDs, but never seen was of course Theo Travis. Theo started in jazz but somehow found its way into the world of prog and seems to play on every other record these days. Theo played a wide range of instruments clarinet, saxophones, flutes and others I couldn't name... Maybe not the most obvious instrument in the Prog setting, they bring a real texture to the music and the interplay with the Mellotron and the interplay with both Wilson's and the keyboards of Adam Holzman was really nice. The real instruments of course allow an expression and earthy, organic quality in the sound that will never be matched by a keyboard or sample. Steven himself alternated between keyboard, acoustic and electric guitar (often all three in the same song) and was very animated, clearly very excited by the experience - something he had alluded to when we spoke together.

Although Steven's music contains many loud and powerful passages, there's also a lot of quiet moments in the pieces which demand attention and respect from the audience. I'm happy to say that this was mostly the case, however there were a couple of guys that insisted on talking throughout the opening numbers. Steven, to his credit, pulled these two up and told them "I don't want to hear you guys talking any more while I'm playing". He played on this several times during the show resulting in absolute rapt silence from the audience through most of the tracks - absolutely marvellous; I wish more artists would take it upon themselves to scold members of the audience and stop annoying the show for other people. While Steven was very chatty between numbers, I'm not sure the audience exactly appreciated his discussion about serial killers prior to Raider II - his request to the crowd, "who's the most famous Belgian serial killer?", threw up the name of Marc Dutroux - a subject not lightheartedly discussed in Belgium and it made for a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere for a few minutes.

Steven Wilson

It's very difficult to pick out any particular highlights as every track was performed amazingly well, as tight as hell. Indeed Stephen is so happy with this band that he's already announced that he will record his third solo album with this lineup, and this will of course include the track Luminol which was written on tour and played at the latter dates. This track came across quite well, but still sounds like it needs a little bit of tweaking before recording. It was a bit more progressive and angular than the compositions on Grace for Drowning and I think a lot of people are going to like this. It is fair to say that the music came across even better live than it does on the CD, the silence of the audience really added a weight to the quieter, melancholy pieces and the stronger heavier parts really hit hard. I do have a personal preference for Steven's quieter pieces and I would nominate Get All You Deserve, Abandoner and Raider II as my keeper moments.

A tremendously enjoyable show: Steven Wilson, the gift that just keeps on giving!

Slideshow

Setlist
No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun
Index
Deform to Form a Star
Sectarian
Postcard
Remainder the Black Dog
Harmony Korine
Abandoner
Insurgentes
Luminol
No Part of Me
Raider II

Get All You Deserve

Links
Steven Wilson Official Website
Grace For Drowning Official Website

DPRP's Review of "Grace For Drowning"

Ancienne Belgique

 


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