Steven Wilson at the Boulder Theater, 5-6-13 (photos, review)By Alan Cox | May 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Steven Wilson isnâ€™t afraid of the dark.
In fact, judging from his show Monday night, it would seem he rather prefers it. Supported by haunting video images and surrounded by renowned musicians like Marco Minnemann (drums), Guthrie Govan (guitar) and Theo Travis (flute, sax, clarinet), Wilson presented his vibe-heavy form of art rock to a very responsive full house at the Boulder Theater.
The band opened with â€śLuminol,â€ť a 12-plus-minute musical journey that featured the dynamic range of emotion and tempo changes characteristic ofÂ Wilsonâ€™s lengthier compositions. The punchy, precise and frenetic ending brought the sitting house to its feet. The second song, â€śDrive Home,â€ť bore a distinct resemblance to Pink Floydâ€™s â€śComfortably Numb,â€ť not only with its hypnotic plodding and lush keyboard washes, but also its melodic guitar solo that launched the crowd out of its chairs again.
Despite having a deep catalog from his numerous other bands and projects (including Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and No-Man), Wilson decisively informed the crowd they were there to play the material from his new album, â€śThe Raven That Refused to Sing and other stories.â€ť
Intermingling older songs like â€śPostcard,â€ť â€śHarmony Korineâ€ť and â€śDeform to Form a Star,â€ť the barefooted Wilson and company managed to present the entire album within the 140-minute set. During this, Wilson shifted between his center stage organ to pacing around with electric, acoustic and even a bass guitar.Â The show was full of dynamic shifts (sitting then standing, building up then tearing down) and confounding paradoxes. It was beautiful but brutal and delicate but disturbing all at the same time.
Half way into the set, a sheet dropped between the band and crowd with the semi-transparent wall serving as a screen for unnerving imagery supporting â€śThe Watchmaker.â€ť Wilson called for quiet and requested â€śrespectâ€ť for the song before moving into the tension-filled, early minutes of the sprawling â€śRaider II,â€ť which evolved into cathartic thundering by song end. They wrapped the main set with the new albumâ€™s mournful title track that held the audience captive until the final note faded.
For the encore, Wilson noted that since he doesnâ€™t have any â€śhits,â€ť heâ€™s pretty much free to play whatever he wants, and since the first three Porcupine Tree albums were essentially solo records anyway, he launched into 1991â€™s â€śRadioactive Toy,â€ť complete with audience participation in the chorus. The band took an extended curtain call, as sketches of each playerâ€™s face and name strategically appeared onscreen behind them.
Itâ€™s worth noting that, unlike a typical crowd that files out and races to their cars when the showâ€™s over, Mondayâ€™s audience hung around outside. With a bewildered look, the crowd chatted about the jazz/rock/prog show they just witnessed. Wilson told the audience mid-set that he loves Boulder. On this night at least, it appears Boulder loves him right back.
Alan Cox is the president/creative director of Cox Creative, a Highlands Ranch-based creative shop. He works too much, sleeps too little and spends every free moment coaching baseball, shooting images and hanging out with his rowdy sons and rowdier wife. Check out his photosÂ here.
Jason BullingerÂ is a graphic designer, illustrator and photographer and a new contributor with Reverb.