I have made a shocking discovery – writing about music is hard. Back in the days of my book blogging, I struggled a lot because I have problem re-reading my texts and in general I always feel like what I write is not “good enough”. Who would have thought writing about music is more difficult, because really, it’s so much more intuitive/subjective & since English is not my native language, I struggle mainly in the areas that require specific vocabulary – namely, I feel there are not enough English adjectives in my life to keep things varied :p
Now that this is off my shoulder, let me try to count the ways in which I love Steven Wilson (edit from later: there are many :p). It is a
sad bittersweet truth that he dominates my own personal Best Gigs in Smaller Venues I’ve Ever Been To with two of his shows right now (I don’t really feel you can even compare shows in smaller venues and shows on stadiums). I asked Jan to describe the 2015 Hand.Cannot.Erase concert (which we saw last Sunday, on 19th of April) in three words & after a little prodding from yours truly he came up with EPIC, SAD and BEAUTIFUL.
Epic – definitely. I can’t think of much more epic things than prog rock played well & with passion. The concert was epic in the way that everything worked together – all the musicians in SW’s band are (obviously!) highly skilled & professional (or “the world’s best” as he always describes them, & which always makes me wonder what Porcupine Tree guys would say to that :p), the set was arranged with care & consideration, the sound was great, and the crowd was wonderful & responsive (considering they are Finns,
aka human rocks – jk). I think the setlist was built cleverly in the way how the main portion of the concert consisted of the whole Hand.Cannot.Erase (which is a concept album), + a few songs that match with the themes, & the first encore had very different energy with the epically solo-ridden The Watchmaker & the best performance of the gig for me personally, Porcupine Tree song Sleep Together – it was an a-mah-zing performance. I’ll just say it included a curtain and lots of black-and-white lighting effects.
Beautiful – well, duh. Wilson has written some of my favourite melodies in the whole world. I would say Lazarus is one of the classically beautiful songs, which is not my personal favourite, but you can’t blame an artist for tossing in a crowd pleaser. There was a reason why I took special care to add a whole pack of napkins into my cross-body bag, and that reason is called The Raven That Refused to Sing. I love a good cry now & then, but I loathe crying in the public. During the Raven-tour in 2013 (I hope that went correct now), Wilson did it as, I think, also the last song, and I was weeping away in the middle of all those black-clad people like a babe newborn (well, not that loudly…). This had never happened before! So I packed the napkins, and indeed, they came in handy, because the song was even more beautiful & sad than last time. I challenge anyone with a pulse to not be moved by it (& its accompanying animation) – The Raven That Refused to Sing. It seems to me Wilson is one of those artists who sounds much, much better live than on any recording – I think it’s combination of channeling the inner passion & the fact that what ends up on the records is the result of him not being able to keep fingers away from all the shiny music machinery lying about 😀 (Joking – but who knows, right…)
Sad – well yes, there’s a funny thing – seeing & listening to Wilson’s music is a bit of a masochistic activity, ain’t it? From the top of my head I can’t really think of a happy, shiny song. Usually we are dealing with serial killers & kidnappers & mentally disturbed, & topics like death, loss, obsession & melancholy. Index is a good example here – also a song he sang during the Raven tour (where the video is from). However, this time it sounded and looked completely different. He also talked about how the song Harmony Korine was born – love the song, but that video… is spooky. (& I love that too.)
Crowd – it was one of the best crowds I have experienced recently, I was really quite proud. If the venue was not sold out, it was definitely very close to it. There was no “random element” in the audience, as much as I saw – everyone knew why they were there & what they wanted to get (except those people who always start leaving before the end of the encore to get their coats first – but there are always those people…) We were standing quite close to the bar, & in the bar was a man, who in the middle of the songs kept yelling (in his raspy, quite drunken voice) three things – “Stevie!” (makes sense), “Mellotron!” (also makes sense though he didn’t get the Mellotron-song) & “Paranoid!” (Black Sabbath? You’d think he was at the wrong show if it wasn’t for them two other words). It was quite amusing actually (“mellotron” is just such a cute word).
Visuals – you know that if you go to a Steven Wilson show, you are in for a visual treat as well as the audio one. Each Hand.Cannot.Erase song came with a special moving video image, as well as all the other songs. It’s really not that hard to relate to artist who confesses his undying love for books, films and music in general – & incorporates it all in his own art to create something more than “just another gig”.
TL;DR – if you ever get the chance to see Steven Wilson (or Porcupine Tree – though I personally have lost hope for that one…), go see them perform – whether you like prog, or you like music, or you like Wilson, or you don’t even know what I’m talking about – you will be demonstrated how a great live show is done – with good balance of professionalism, passion & shitloads of talent.
*several proofreads later* Well, apparently I am a fan
boigirl. Let’s all deal with it now.
A little extra – I could not NOT add this photo below – I nicked it shamelessly from the Von Hertzen Brothers Facebook page. Mikko von Hertzen looks like he’s just been to the cookie jar & there was some fat loot 😀 He looks so happy! & why wouldn’t he – he got to give his new record to one of his all time idols. Oh, & David Bowie is okay too :p