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Porcupine Tree Bristol Carling Academy 24:04:07 (Read 3,874 times)
 
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Porcupine Tree Bristol Carling Academy 24:04:07
25th Apr, 2007 at 3:51pm
 
Porcupine Tree
Bristol Carling Academy
24:04:07


A brief history of my love (not) for Bristol

Over the years I have been to quite a few gigs in Bristol. Every time without fail I have either got lost trying to get out of Bristol or when I have got out I inexplicably find myself heading back towards it. And it’s not just gigs that are cursed; I even got lost coming home from a family trip to Bristol Zoo.
But the straw, which finally broke the camels back, as they say, was when I went to see Tool in Cardiff last year. Great show; got there no problem. But the return journey took me past Bristol and for no apparent reason I drove off the motorway into the city. I don’t know why, it just sucked me in! Resistance was indeed futile. A 3hr journey home almost doubled as I struggled to negotiate the intricate one way system and total lack of helpful signs. So I vowed this would never happen again. I had two choices. One; never ever go to or near Bristol again. Or two; get a Sat Nav for the car. It was a no-brainer really, and a lovely new TomTom GPS soon came into my possession. So armed with my new best friend, my guiding light (if Julie, my wife is reading this then obviously I mean you my love), we headed for the Black Hole that is Bristol with some confidence.

The Venue

This was my first time at the Bristol Carling Academy and I was pleased to note that the car park will also be suitable for when we see Marillion at the Colston Hall in June. Arrived in good time and although a few wrong turns were made due to road closures and congestion, thanks to the GPS we were never ‘lost’.

Had time to check out the merchandise (2 t-shirts purchased) and get drinks from the bar and then into the main hall, which seemed wider than it was deep which was odd for a concert venue, with the ground floor and two tiers of balcony looking down on the stage. I don’t think it was sold out but it was very full indeed. Managed to find a good spot for Julie and me to see everything from so decided to stay put even though it was near the back, which actually wasn’t that far away. It was also good to note the place wasn’t full of smokers. Not sure if this was down to smoking restrictions or just luck; most likely the former. But it did make a pleasant change. A venue I will look forward to hopefully going to again sometime.


Amplifier

Amplifier were the support band; one of my favourite bands at the moment who I have seen quite a few times before. They have always impressed me live, always playing with a smile on their face like they are actually enjoying it, and I was wondering how they would be received by the PT crowd. I really enjoyed them but then I was familiar with all the songs they played, but the sound wasn’t great and I can imagine a lot of people just hearing a wall of noise. Sel’s vocals weren’t as clear as they should have been, which is a shame as he has a great voice. I think also they could have varied the set a little better by maybe playing songs like The Consultancy and Procedures instead of either Airbourne or Motorhead, which good as they are, take up a lot of space in a short set and to the uninitiated are very similar. But in spite of this they seemed to go down quite well, or though you never can be sure if the cheer a support band gets at the end of their set is because they were liked a lot or just because they had finally finished.

Amplifier Setlist
Gustav’s Arrival
O Fortuna
Motorhead
Panzer
Old Movies
Airborne


The Main Event: Porcupine Tree

This was my third time of seeing PT and Julie’s first. I was a little worried that the set would be dominated by all their heavy tracks. Julie is big fan of Steven Wilson’s more song orientated material (Lazarus, Trains, Piano Lessons, Shesmovedon) and his Blackfield project. None of which were likely to be played tonight judging by previous setlists for this tour (obviously not the Blackfield stuff!). But I made sure over the last week that she has been listening to the new album to familiarise herself with the new songs and listening to it in the car on the way to the show was pleased to note she was singing along with middle heavy section of Anesthetize. Not surprisingly her favourite new track is Sentimental.

The sound was a lot better for PT than for Amplifier but I do feel that PT lose something live by playing so loud (and this is not because I am getting old) or maybe we will never get to hear them at their best live until they can afford a top of the range sound system.

Porcupine Tree have a wealth of material to draw from when choosing a setlist and it’s never going to please everyone. Obviously and quite rightly the new album dominates proceedings. And the centre piece of the set, like the album, is Anesthetize. At nearly 18 minutes in length it flows from one section to the next effortlessly and at no point does it drag or lose direction. The new material also sees Steven on keyboards for the first time live on My Ashes, Sentimental and Sleep Together. I would like to say at this point that I am not a big fan of John Wesley’s voice and he did take the lead vocal on too many occasions for my liking. But this is a minor gripe as I could see the reason why he did so, as the parts he sang were maybe just out of SW range when singing live.

(continued in the post below)
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Re: Porcupine Tree Bristol Carling Academy 24:04:0
Reply #1 - 25th Apr, 2007 at 3:53pm
 
It was great to hear Sever and Lightbulb Sun given a dusting off. I was particularly looking forward to hearing Drown With Me live for the first time, a wonderful acoustic led song that didn’t make it onto In Absentia (unless you got the 2 disc version). But I don’t think it worked that well live unfortunately. Another non-album track given an airing was Half Light, which, on the other hand was wonderful and is a bit of a throwback to PT’s more spacey rock phase. Blackest Eyes seemed to get the biggest cheer of the night. This song is the perfect balance between the rockier and melodic sides of PT music. Just prior to it someone shouted out “You guys crappity smacking rock!” to which SW replied “How sweet”. Steven does not come over like your typical rock star (no doubt he would say it’s because he isn’t one) and I love the way he talks conversationally to the crowd, informing us that “After 15 years we finally have a hit record, does 31 count as a hit? crappity smack yeah! It’s a hit” Queue loud cheers from the crowd.

I have to mention the light show or more specifically the projections played throughout behind the band. All the new album material had what amounted to a music video of top quality to accompany it. In fact I spent much of the time watching the projections and not the band, in the grand Pink Floyd tradition. The one new song that came over especially well with the benefit of the visuals was Way Out Of Here. The brutality of the song, musically and lyrically was not that apparent to me on CD but live it blew me away. I think I will have the image of the young girl on the train tracks in my head every time I listen to it from now on.

So overall a fantastic gig, not perfect, but Porcupine Tree are getting, slowly but surely, the success and following they deserve.

Porcupine Tree Setlist:
Fear of a Blank Planet
Lightbulb Sun
My Ashes
Anesthetize
Open Car
Gravity Eyelids
Drown With Me
Sentimental
Blackest Eyes
Half Light
Sever
Way Out Of Here
Sleep Together

Even Less
Mother & Child Divided
Halo


Oh, and did I get out of Bristol and home without incident…?

For the very first time YES!! Grin

Cheers
David
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Re: Porcupine Tree Bristol Carling Academy 24:04:0
Reply #2 - 25th Apr, 2007 at 7:30pm
 
Fantastic write-up David. Many thanks !!

It sounds like it was a great gig. I would just love to see Porcupine Tree live ... Cool
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