Steven Wilson (Royal Albert Hall, 20/10/13)

Nearly a month ago J and I went to see Steven Wilson play at the Royal Albert Hall. As this was shortly after we’d got home from Turin we didn’t spend the day in London beforehand, just headed in in time for the concert. After meeting up with Paul and Ady we had dinner at Wagamamas and headed off to find our seats. Paul had bought the tickets some time before* and we’d all forgotten what we’d done about seats – just remembered we’d gone for fairly cheap tickets so assumed we were up in the nosebleed seats somewhere. But it turned out we’d got seats on the main floor seating area, only about 20 or 30 rows back from the front, which was pretty awesome.

*We’d learnt from last time’s organisational fail!

I find talking about solo gigs for Steven Wilson a bit difficult – I don’t often (if at all) listen to the albums at home. So I don’t know the music particularly well, and often can’t name the tracks even when I do know them. There’s something about the atmosphere of him & his band live, in combination with the visuals, that makes the music work for me in a way it doesn’t really do on record. And I do like the videos that go with the songs. The concert even opened with a short video set to music about a busker who no-one notices (which is also the subject of one of Wilson’s songs – “Luminol”), which segued seamlessly into the start of the concert proper. I can’t remember the setlist now (and as I said at the beginning of this paragraph I likely couldn’t’ve told you it immediately after the gig either) – I do remember we got Postcard (which I like quite a lot, but J’s not that fond of), and Watchmaker, and The Raven that Refused to Sing, because I remember all the visuals for those ones 🙂 And they finished up with Radioactive Toy as the encore, just like in March 🙂

They were fairly strict about no photography during the show, so I don’t have any photos (and the one I tried to take on my phone to show where we were in the venue didn’t come out at all). I’ll finish up the post with a video from youtube instead, of Postcard as played in Mexico City last year:

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: