Bogart’s is one of those clubs that has a large open-space in front of the stage that extends two-thirds of the way back in the building to where the mixing desk is, behind which is another smaller space, and the all important bar. There’s also a second-level above the bar and mixing desk.
The sound quality in the place was highly dependent on where you were standing. The music was notably muddy, especially if you were towards the back.
Anyway, I was probably in the first third of the open space when I overheard some guys behind me talking about 5 minutes before Porcupine Tree hit the stage. I think they were college age (hard to tell, but somewhat (though not entirely) irrelevant to the point). One of them said, “Dude, I’ve been waiting years for this.”
The guy was from Indy, and either PT hasn’t been there or he couldn’t attend when they did, and he was talking about how for a lot of concerts, the only choices are to go to Chicago or Cincinnati. In any event, it was one of those little signs of reminders that life is pretty good when you are seeing your favorite band on their latest tour for the 4th (or was it 5th?) time. Then again, see below.
Or perhaps I was giving myself forward ‘encouragement’ for the next day, when I drove to Pittsburgh and not entirely unexpectedly watched the Pens lose Game Two against the Habs.
In any event, here goes…
<digression> Bogart’s is on 2621 Vine Street in Cincinnati. My hotel was on the corner of 5th street and Vine. I arrived at an awkward time, a little too late to be able to relax and have a good dinner at the steakhouse across the street, a little too early to grab a cab immediately to the club. Since I’m so used to the grid-style street systems of NYC and (sort-of) Chicago, I assumed that this meant it was a 21 block walk from the hotel to the club. Silly me.
As I often do, I was catching up on my phone a bunch of emails, blog post readings, etc. and not really paying attention, until at one point I looked up and realized that, as it happens, very shortly out of downtown on Vine Street, is a major slum area. One of those places (if you’ve ever seen them personally) where you can’t imagine that real people have to live, especially in America. And one of those places where my appearance was note-worthy enough for commentary once or twice. Let’s just say that it was one of those few times in my life when I was very highly conscious of my very high whiteness and wondering how hard it might be to find a cab. But I digress.</digression>
The opening band was some group called BigElf. No, I’ve never heard of them either. Mr.Bigelf (or whomever the lead singer is) was a sight to see. He played a mellotron and a Hammands organ in the ‘old style’ where they were to either side of him, so that he could play them while facing the crowd. He was wearing a top hat like Slash, and wore something like a purple velvet smoking jacket. Apparently, the band has been around for almost 20 years. At one point, he introduced a song by saying something like “You may have heard of this one, it is called NeuroPsychopathic Eye.” Um, no, haven’t heard of that one, sorry. They weren’t bad at all. Just a little odd. The statute of Yoda on his mellotron had nothing to do with it.
After that, Porcupine Tree hit the stage, and here was the set list:
The Incident (the entire thing)
<10 minute break>
Start of Something Beautiful
Russia on Ice
Anesthetize, pt. 2
Way Out of Here
Bonnie the Cat
The Sound of Musak
Overall, I liked this set list better than the one the previous night, but overall, the experience and quality of the set was at PT’s usual high standard anyway.
I think “The Incident” as a whole plays better live than as recorded, in large part because I don’t really see how it fits together as a whole. The musicianship is obviously great throughout, but for the most part, it seems to me to be more a loose collection of songs than something that hangs together.
SW doesn’t normally spend a lot of time conversing with the audience, but perhaps because their seemed to be an equipment issue during the set, he did have a funny exchange that came up throughout the show. Before ‘Lazarus’ played, he mentioned that their seemed to be a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. “I’ve seen you many times before, how many shows do you think you’ve been to?” 38. “38, I should know your name, what’s your name?” Steven. “Steven. I think I should be able to remember that. And you, sir, what’s your name?” Mike. “Okay, Mike, how many shows have you seen?” 20. Crowd boos. “Sorry, Mike….Steven and Mike, I hope you guys understand, if you are coming to this show to think you are going to hear something you have absolutely never heard before…you know your wasting your time right?” And he meant it humorously, of course. Later on, right before ‘Normal’ was played, he stopped and asked “Steven and Mike, can you guess which song is next?” SW was switching from electric to acoustic, so I, along with dozens of others yelled out “Normal!” He responded, “I was asking Steven and Mike, can the rest of the class pipe down?”
This relates to the comment I made in the post about the previous concert, where PT tends not to improv beyond the recorded the material, even though they (apparently) used to do this all the time. One obvious reason for this is that for a large number of songs, they have a film that plays along with the song being played, and they absolutely *nail* having the music be in sync with the film. So, for instance, whenever they play “Way Out of Here”, they play the same video (taken from a real incident where a couple of teenage girls who happened to be PT fans killed themselves by throwing themselves in front of a moving train) of the young goth chick with the IPod walking on the tracks.
<digression> I saw PT in Atlanta a few years ago with a friend of mine in a place that was a lot like Bogart’s where the sound was a lot muddier than what I was used to, but one of the things he mentioned was how when they played “Sleep Together”, the drummer matched the freaky droid drumming guys in the video exactly.</digression>
SW did mention that the NYC show would have a number of surprises, and didn’t otherwise make it seem like it would be the last show in a long time, or anything like that. I’m looking forward to it, even if he mentioned more than once that the show was in October when it is actually in September. Or perhaps I have tickets to Radio City Music Hall for something entirely different…LOL.
Another good show.