Porcupine Tree Concert, June 1st 2007, Park West, Chicago

As I had hoped they mixed up the set list quite a bit.

At the previous show, the opening act, 3 (yes, their name is a numeral), actually started at 6:45 PM, instead of at 7:30 PM, so I arrived just in time to hear the last two minutes of their last song.  Thought it was pretty good.

This time, they hit the stage right at 7:30.  It's hard to categorize their music (and I probably would get it wrong anyway).  Thrash?  Sort of.  Except for the flamenco stuff (more on this in a minute).  The lead vocalist (one of the two guitarists) actually looks kind of like what I would have looked like if I had been a rock star.  He also played without a pick (including playing like a bass player while also strumming chords, impressive stuff), something I used to do at times when I played.  The other main guitarist played a few too many 'whammy bar squealing' noises for my tastes, but was otherwise good.

One thing their set reminded me of was this: unless you are familiar with the group playing, you generally can't tell what the hell they are singing at any point in time, which makes it hard to track the songs later.  This is really unfortunate, because I'd like to hear a recorded version of the last song of their set.

I don't know if it was part of the actual song, but it started with a drum solo.  When it started, I thought, 'Great, maybe the drum set will rise up in the air and start spinning' (Alex Van Halen, Monsters of Rock Tour 1988, Houston, TX).  But it wasn't bad, and the 2nd percussionist got in on it (not sure about the whole biting the cymbal thing, but okay).  Then the lead vocalist, playing acoustic as he did most of the set, did this really intricate, talented instrumental thing that was like flamenco guitar.  Then he started scat-singing.  I swear, I'm not making this up.  Then the rest of the band cranked in with a really good hard rock bash, during which the singer sang plaintively about....something.  Couldn't tell what the hell he was singing.

So, you had a flamenco, scat, hard-rock song.  And it worked.  It was really, really good.

As the song came to a close, the singer did something that I just caught at the last show (so, it's a gimmick thing, but okay).  Now, keep in mind, he's playing acoustic, and he's playing without a pick.  As the song builds to a close, he strums so hard that he *breaks* the strings.  If you've ever played guitar, think about this.  With thin strings on an electric guitar, you can break a string pretty easily, especially if you do a lot of bending, etc.  This is snapping thicker strings on an acoustic by strumming really, really hard.

That had to fucking hurt.  I can't imagine doing that.

So, I'll be looking for at least one 3 song.  If that makes sense.

Like clockwork from the first show, PT came on 30 minutes after 3 ended.  They opened with 'Fear of a Blank Planet' and 'My Ashes' as they did previously.  SW then asked how many of the crowd had been to the previous show, and how many hadn't.  Then said that they were going to mix things up for those that had been to the first show.  Cool.  They then proceeded to play the rest of the new CD, and then, a bit surprisingly, left the stage for 5 minutes (the roadies took out the keyboard SW used for 'My Ashes' and 'Sleep Together').  They came back and played some of the songs they played the first time, and replaced some of the others.  Encore was 2 songs instead of 3 (SW made a comment about how they've played 'Even Less' to death on the last 3 tours, so skipped it), and they were done.  Another well played 2 hour set. 

In rough order (think I'm forgetting one or two), here's the set list:

Fear of a Blank Planet
My Ashes
Way Out of Here
Sleep Together

<5 minute break>

Lightbulb Sun
Open Car
Mellotron Scratch
Drown With Me
Blackest Eyes
A Smart Kid

Mother and Child Divided

Random notes:

Mother and Child Divided is like Rush's 'YYZ.'  It isn't bad, per se, but I don't see any reason why it gets played in concert.  It's boring.

Disappointed that my other two favorite PT songs ('Arriving Somewhere But Not Here' and 'Start of Something Beautiful') didn't make the 2nd show.  I was hoping at least one of them might slip in.  Though, I did just get in the DVD of the Blackwing tour show at the Park West from 2006, so I can see them there.

'Lightbulb Sun' was never one of my favorite songs, but it works *really* well live.

'Drown With Me' sounds like a Marillion song.

'Anesthetize' is probably firmly tied for my 2nd favorite song of all time (behind King Crimson's 'Starless'), though there's a group of about 90 songs tied for #2.  They pulled the song off almost effortlessly.

Overall, 'Fear of a Blank Planet' comes across better live than on recording.  I really like the CD, but especially 'Sleep Together' is very very good live.  It translates to a live setting well.

I had decided to pay more attention to the video display (on about half of the songs, they had video playing), but I just couldn't do it.  It doesn't do anything for me.  The one exception was the video for 'Way Out of Here' which shows a young pretty 'goth' girl walking on the train tracks, mourning the death of her friend (never made clear how she died or why...lyrics indicate goth girl had something to do with it), and then possibly being hit by a train (at the very end of the video, you see the shadow of her legs walking on the tracks, so maybe she isn't dead).  When the lyrics talk about cutting out the face from the photographs, if I saw it correctly, goth girl is cutting out her own face, not her dead friend.

What does it mean?  Most likely, absolutely nothing.

Oh, I take that back.  The video for 'Sleep Together' had this....alien on a motorcycle surfing the Internet inside a bubble.  If you ever see the video, that's highly accurate, but is sort of useless as an explanation otherwise.  I can't help you there.  At the end of the song, the video pans back and you see that there are thousands, maybe millions, of these bubbles with aliens the beat of the music.

What does it mean?  Most definitely, absolutely nothing. 

Best of all, she wasn't there.  Or if she was, I didn't see her, and she didn't see me. 

Looking forward to seeing them again.

posted on Saturday, June 02, 2007 8:51 PM Print
# re: Porcupine Tree Concert, June 1st 2007, Park West, Chicago
6/17/2008 3:28 PM
The 'Way Out Of Here' video does mean something: the video, if not the song is a reference to a 'gothy' Porcupine Tree fan who was killed by a train in 2005. SW acknowledged this at the 2 June concert in Milwaukee, which was attended by her family.
# re: Porcupine Tree Concert, June 1st 2007, Park West, Chicago
6/17/2008 5:54 PM
Ah, okay. I didn't know he had stated that explicitly, thanks for letting me know.

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