Porcupine Tree, 09/22/2009, Chicago IL

Overcoming a less clear sound mix, Porcupine Tree put on another solid show at Vics Theatre, mixing up the second part of their set from the previous night, as I had hoped.

It could have been where I was standing for their set, but the sound mix for Kings X was muddy, to say the least.  For a number of songs, Frontman dude would play some opening bass riffs, and you couldn’t tell what the hell it was really (which sort of made the 8 string bass number a miss), with only the lowest notes discernable. 

Frontman dude did a variation of his ‘first church of rock’ rap, and since it was coming, I paid a little more attention to it.  He talked about knowing that he didn’t want to be a lawyer or a doctor or a preacher or a factory worker (he was from Joliet, IL and referenced a particular factory, but I couldn’t tell which exactly, as they had trouble bringing his voice up on the mix, which was surprising, given how strong his singing voice is), and that he knew he wanted to make music.  And he added a nice touch that just because you have a dream, it doesn’t mean you will get rich or famous or that ‘you will be the shit’, but you shouldn’t spend your life doing things you don’t want to do.

Which is all well and good, except for the fact that being a responsible human being often, unfortunately, involves doing things that you don’t necessarily want to do.  Thinking of all the working parents (especially immigrants) that I worked with back in the years I worked in restaurants, I think of the parents who ‘sacrificed’ themselves, often working multiple jobs, because they wanted to make a better life for their kids, and not because they loved manual labor (Lord knows I didn’t enjoy it much, and I was just a single twerp working through college).

But, it’s only rock and roll.

One thing that they did again (though less successfully than the previous night in Cleveland, in part perhaps because of the mix) was their extended version of Over My Head.  I can’t say for sure, but it looked like the stagehands would single Frontman dude how long they wanted them to stretch it out, and they made it a good 15 minutes, including about 4 minutes of once again solid guitar work.  The impressive thing to me was the ‘sing-along’ part.

There’s a chorus that goes something like:

Music, music, I hear music
Music, I hear, music, music
Music oh oh oh Lord
Music over my head

Now, the meter of it isn’t straight 4/4 time, and it carries over a few bars.  Maybe I’m just underestimating the ability of a half-blitzed rock crowd to carry a non-basic rhythm for multiple rounds or maybe I’m just a non-rhythmic white boy (these aren’t mutually exclusive), but it was impressive to me that it went on for longer than a minute, without instrumental backing.


The mix for PT wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it was for Kings X, though not quite as clear as it was in Cleveland.  Given that a lot of The Incident involves slightly intricate acoustic guitar, this was a little annoying, but not bad.

Set list:

  • The Incident (all 55 minutes of it)
  • (10 minute break)
  • Start of Something Beautiful
  • Russia on Ice
  • Anesthetize (partial, same 5 minute till 12 minute section)
  • Remember Me Lover
  • Strip the Soul / 3
  • Way Out of Here
  • (encore)
  • The Sound of Muzak
  • Trains

Remember Me Lover was played live for the first time on the current tour.  I was particularly pleased to get to hear Way Out of Here and The Sound of Muzak played back to back, as they contain my two favorite SW guitar solos. 

Whenever you go to a live concert, you always have to deal with the people around you and usually that isn’t a problem.  A couple of minor twists tonight.  One involved a couple that was standing behind me, and apparently, she was incredibly unhappy with the view of the stage (it wasn’t clear if they had been in a better section earlier and made a move or what) and made it clear, quite vocally.  So, for The Incident, there was a lot of <song finishes on stage>, “Please don’t be angry with me.”  “I’m angry with you.”  “Please forgive me, I fucked up.”  <next song starts>.  I imagined him imagining singing I Drive The Hearse to her when it was playing.  Bad imagination.  Bad. Bad.  Then there was the muscle guy who moved up with his buddy towards the end of The Incident right in front of me, and was really intent on carrying on a conversation with his buddy, which was hard to do since there was a concert going on, and so required him essentially shouting through various songs.  Brilliant. 

But all that aside, it was another solid performance by the band.  SW mentioned that they planned to be back early next year for the next leg of the tour, so since I tend to see one group a year it seems, I have a mental note to look forward to that.

posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 12:03 AM Print
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