If we take the word progressive in one of its oldest forms to mean "engaging in or constituting forward motion" then Porcupine Tree's show at Nokia Theater in New York City on October 6, 2006 plants them firmly as the current epitome of a progressive rock band. While their current group of shows essentially support the release of the DVD documenting the Deadwing tour, the members of PT have chosen not to mimic that product but instead have taken the opportunity to open a door to their future by previewing as yet unrecorded material for their next CD (due in early 2007). Porcupine Tree are honing this material in an approximately ¾ hour long chunk opening their show. Kicking off the show was ProjecKt Six, featuring King Crimson members Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew.
Sea of Tranquility is pleased to bring to you this concert review, courtesy of guest writer Peter Parrella of PiercingMetal.com
To their credit PT managed not only to hold the attention of their quite devoted audience but elicit the kind of response you'd expect to get for tried and true material. That's certainly a great reaction for songs that apparently don't even have names yet and a nice feat considering the packed house had already heard opening act ProjecKt Six (Robert Fripp & Adrian Belew) play a completely improvisational set. The new tunes themselves, at least at this point, do not vary greatly in style from the In Absentia and Deadwing mold. Comprised of heavy guitars, fluid single line leads, synthesizer pads and Steve Wilson's plaintive, melodic vocals, the effect can be particularly Floydian, and whereas the agile rhythm section adds a more technical counterpoint to the sonic wash, it never goes to the extreme of becoming mathematical.
A bit of self deprecating humor on the band's part came when Wilson proclaimed to the audience at the beginning of a particularly epic new number, "This is the longest song we've ever tried, it's very hard for us. It wouldn't be hard for Dream Theater, but it's hard for us." Though the crowd was littered with approving folks in DT T-shirts, the young lady next me shouted to the barefoot, PRS wielding singer/guitarist "We love you Wilson" but had less complementary things to say about Dream Theater. There lies the line that Porcupine Tree so elegantly straddles - Dream Theater versus Dream Academy - respected by the "prog/metal males" and on the verge of idolization from their young female contingent. It's a nice place to be, something akin to the Barrett led Pink Floyd in the earliest days of London's UFO club.
What PT intend to make of it is hard to say, their recent signing with indie label Roadrunner in the UK puts them in a stable with some of the heaviest bands on the planet and will draw attention to their more progressive metal leanings. The light show and new material played at Nokia suggests arenas in their future but Steve Wilson's protean musicality often lures him off to side projects (Blackfield, NoMan, "Deadwing: The Movie") or production for other bands (three Opeth albums), so it's anyone's guess. My humble opinion is that with the new label support and a major tour they have the potential to turn the next album into Dark Side of the Moon for the 21st Century. What's not clear is if they'd consider becoming that big a good or bad thing.
The band took a short break after the new song section and returned with an hour of crowd pleasers like "Arriving Somewhere…", and an encore comprised of "Halo" and "Blackest Eyes", a tune which blueprinted PT's chiaroscuro arrangements with it's bludgeoning riffs, followed by pastoral acoustic guitar and back again.
All in all it was a really enjoyable experience and an awesome opportunity to hear a great band in the process of creating new music.
Six New Songs as yet to be recorded (possibly not yet named)
5 minute break
The Sound of Muzak
Buying New Soul
Arriving Somewhere But Not Here
The Start of Something Beautiful