Steven Wilson at the Festival Hall, London 4th March 2013

A couple of weeks ago we went into London for the day & in the evening we went to see Steven Wilson playing at the Festival Hall. Not a venue I’d been to before, although I suspect I’ve seen it on the telly as it looked familiar. It was all seated, which is a rarity for rock events & even though it means I get a better view it still doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere as a “proper” gig. Due to a degree of organisational fail when booking tickets (ie no-one talked to anyone before they bought them) we ended up all sat in different places – J & I were together and Ady a few seats away in the cheaper seats & Ellen & Paul both in the further forward ones but not in the same place.

There wasn’t a support band, just the main act – although this is Wilson’s solo stuff he has a band to record with & tour with, it’s just that he’s the one that writes the music & sets the direction (unlike with Porcupine Tree which was more collaborative). The various musicians are all very good so fascinating to watch. And they had some good video visuals to go with the music. I do have one quibble about that though – the lighting for the band meant you couldn’t always see the visuals & it seemed a shame to’ve taken the time to make the little films and then have them not always visible. There was also a return of the curtain in front of the band trick from the last tour – just for a couple of songs in the middle this time including Watchmaker, with the visuals projected onto the curtain rather than the screen at the back. Even by the standards of visuals for a Steven Wilson song those were pretty creepy!

They played most, if not all, of the new album (The Raven that Refused to Sing) plus highlights from previous Wilson solo albums. Including Postcard, which I like (J is a bit tired of it as a song). And finished up with an encore of an old Porcupine Tree song – Radioactive Toy – which I haven’t heard at a PT gig in years & years (and nowadays it fits better with Wilson’s solo stuff than what PT became). Wilson’s solo stuff is odd for me – I rarely if ever listen to the albums, pretty much never via me actually choosing to put them on. But I do like it live, and I know startling many of the songs when they’re played.

Wilson wasn’t all that talkative, he rarely is, but there was one bit in the middle where he was introducing Raider II that sticks in the mind. He said he’d been looking at amazon reviews and there was one that said the person liked the new album and it had all the Wilson trademark things including Tolkein-esque lyrics … “Tolkein-esque?!?”. Wilson said his mother had brought him up to write songs about serial killers, not about hobbits! And pointed out his mother who was at the concert, in the royal box.

A good gig 🙂 And here’s the video for the title track of the new album – and it was shown on the screen behind the band while they played the song at the gig: