Alright, so just got back home from Toronto, and I must say, this was a top-5 (maybe even top-3) show for me. Incredible show, Porcupine Tree played for just under 2.5 hours, and at $35 a ticket, that's fucking awesome.
The opening act was Bigelf. I really liked their set. Very much a 70s prog-rock band, sounding like a nice middle ground between Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath. The singer had an actual Hammond B-3 with a Leslie cabinet, a real Mellotron, and a few nice vintage synths, and a Yoda doll All of which (minus the doll) sounded incredible. The guitar tone was amazing (SG through Orange stack with some pedals) and the guitarist had some definite chops. The bass player laid down a solid groove, on a Rickenbacker through an Acoustic amp rig (warm and fuzzy, as should be expected) and the drummer was solid and hard-hitting, with plenty of groove. Overall, a really solid, and very entertaining set. The singer was a great frontman, and hilarious between songs. He commented that he was impressed with the number of girls at the show (it was definitely a diverse crowd, with lots of young people and old people, male and female, metalheads and otherwise), and mentioned that we need to make prog-rock sexy again
After a quick changeover, Porcupine Tree came out and started into their first of three sets. The first set was the first disc of "The Incident", in order, start to finish, as they've been doing all tour. They mentioned this show was the last time they'd be doing it in Canada. Other than a pause after "The Blind House" and another before "I Drive The Hearse" it was uninterrupted, and flawless. I think the whole night I only caught one missed note, and that was from the bassist The video projections were also really cool, and enhanced each song they accompanied. The amount of work that went into them was incredible. After they finished "The Incident" they took a 10-minute intermission (with a countdown going on the screen ) before coming back to play some older songs.
The second set was:
Russia On Ice
Bonnie the Cat
Way Out of Here
Again, everything was solidly executed and sounded amazing, and the three songs I hadn't heard before ("Normal", "Russia On Ice" and "Stars Die") have reminded me that I need to get more of their albums They did "Hate Song" as a 4-piece with John only coming out for the second verse to sing backup vocals and wander off again Also, it left me thinking that, at some point, "Normal", "Sentimental" and "Trains" need to be played as a strung-together "medley", since they would transition really flawlessly together (since "Sentimental" was a re-working of "Normal" and both quote the main verse riff of "Trains").
After another short break they came back out, Steven Wilson commenting that one album had been skipped over so far (meaning "In Absentia") and that they'd do a couple songs from that album, at which point they did "Blackest Eyes" and "Trains", with great crowd involvement on both. They paused before the last chorus in "Trains" so Steven could introduce the band (Richard Barbieri and Gavin Harrison both did simple sleight of hand magic tricks when they were introduced ) and then talked for a bit about how there were a lot of Rush shirts in the crowd, and how they all love Rush except Colin Edwin (who gave a thumbs down), at which point Richard played a few clips of Rush off his laptop
The band seemed to have a great time, and John Wesley seemed way more comfortable and "into it" than he does on the "Arriving Somewhere..." DVD, seeming more like one of the guys than a hired gun.
I can't remember when it was during the second or third set, but Steven asked how the crowd liked Bigelf, and called them a sexy bunch or something like that, and then mentioned that Prog Nation (which Bigelf mentioned their own past involvement in during their set) was not a very sexy name, and that it probably turned a lot of females away
The tones were incredible (other than the bassist, he sounded really humpy and flubby, but it worked mostly), and the gear on display was quite drool-worthy. John Wesley played his piezo-ed Singlecut most of the night, though he brought out a couple other PRSs for other tunings, and a hollow metal-body Telecaster of some sort for "Russia On Ice". Steven Wilson had a few nice PRSs as well, his usual double-cut, a couple Singlecuts in different tunings, the Mushok baritone used for "The Incident" and "Your Unpleasant Family" and another Singlecut that only had a bridge pickup that he used for "Circle of Manias", as well as his beautiful Babicz acoustic. The whole thing left me desperately wanting a Bad Cat amp and a PRS or two.
Overall, an incredible show, excellent sound, and definitely ranks as one of the best shows I've ever seen.
Nice review! I caught Bigelf on the Progressive Nation tour and became an instant fan.