Sound: The Support band, a swedish band called Paatos, are a band I had never heard of before I came to this gig. Now I have two of their albums. Their singer has an immense voice (nearly as big as her mouth, which when she sings loud makes her look a bit like a whale shark). The drummer is also pretty impressive, though the other members of the band didn't impress me especially in terms of individual instrumental skill. It seems almost like they haven't exactly perfected their sound yet, there was a distinct quality lacking from the Live performance. Obviously I got the albums, so I'm not saying I didn't like them; but the albums with the intense production are where this band really show their skills. If the psychadelic style of P Tree from the stupid Dream era interest you, then I would strongly recommend giving this band a listen.
Now, Porcupine Tree are my favourite band at the moment, so I hope you understand if my review is somewhat biased. As you might expect from Steve, the sound was perfectly balanced and filled the hall nicely. Steve Plays a PRS Custom 22 and a Babicz Spider acoustic, and they suit his style perfectly. The tone of the Babicz is absolutely perfect for tracks such as Trains and Buying New Soul. I can say the same about the PRS, though for around 5000 you can expect mind blowing instrumentals. If you have never seen PT Live then it may surprise you just how impressive a singer Steven is- He has come a long way since Jupiter Island and Tarquin's Seaweed Farm! The backing vocals are done falsetto by John Wesley, which can be a bit irritating sometimes, his voice is incredibly high, but I wouldn't say he spoils it at any points. That said, when it comes to the mellow section of Arriving somewhere, Don't expect Mikael Akerfeldt to waltz on and soothe the soul! Wesley is good, But I'd say he's the weakest part of the line-up. Finally, Colin Edwin, or "The Colin " As I've taken to calling HIM. I am not sure, but I think he uses Tanglewood basses. Seems odd that he would though. In any case, he pulled off his entire performance flawlessly. He is amazing(see below). And by the way, the new material is intense. // 10
Perfomance: Probably the one letdown of this gig was the relentless focus on the new material. Almost all the old songs played were from Deadwing, with a few from In Absentia and about two surprise tracks from the past, namely Buying New soul (From the Lightrbulb Sun bonus Disk) and I think How Is Your Life Today was also played, but I can't exactly remember. However, what was awesome about the set is that the entire first half was new material, including one fantastic 17 minute track which I cannot describe in mere words; you will have to wait till they release it. Sadly an exact tracklisting is beyond my memory, but I can remember Arriving Somewhere, being as good a track as you expect; The Start Of Something Beautiful is Massive Live, and for us they played an Encore starting with Blackest Eyes and Halo, which is also worth seeing. All I can say is that, although I wasn't too happy with the choice of tracks, every single one was excellent. Colin Edwin. If you ever see them, try to get somewhere where you can watch him. His facial expressions just make me laugh. He can play some pretty technicaly bass, and he just smiles like he has not a care in the world. He seems to have more joy than a care bear, and I know it isn't a comment of skill, but it really is entertaining. Something I believe The Tree are renowned for is their big screen behind them, which really does contribute to the performance. Most of the songs have some special art-housey film to go with them, which I would describe as metaphorica puppetry, or simply light shows with words and images. It's intersting, and often gives you somthing to think about. // 8
Overall Impression: England, Manchester Uni Academy, 30th sep, 2006. Tickets were 15. It really doesn't get much better than that. Something I took away from the show is Steven's hand gestures. This may sound odd, but I got the feeling he was creating a satire on the typical devil symbol people tend to make with their hands when listening to rock, by inverting those finger positions. It's quite odd. But then, Steven is a very strange man. I wouldn't have him any other way. Go to their next gig? As If there was any doubt? // 9