They've only been in existence 20 odd years, yet tonight they played possibly their biggest date in the UK ever. Upgraded from the poxy little Wulfrun Hall to the main Civic Centre, because of demand, Porcupine Tree provided two sets to delight the fans and even looked like they were enjoying themselves - Steven Wilson in particular.
My enjoyment of gigs nowadays depends on whether or not my back will hold out for the duration and it always seems to struggle when a band plays a track I'm not that enamoured with. Despite excellent sound and an almost faultless set, this was probably the least enjoyable of the 3 PT gigs I've been to, and that 'despite' is taking into account that tonight they played 'The Incident' in it's entirety and last year, when I saw them twice, they played Fear of a Blank Planet and I think that is the weakest album they have done, compared to the latest which is one of the better efforts.
The problem tonight was 'The Incident' was excellent and the highlight of the evening was Time Flies; but after the break, the band returned to the stage and by my estimations only managed to play 3 songs that pre-dated Deadwing, plus 2 of the encores were from In Absentia. Rumours of a revival of Stars Die was unfounded and too much emphasis was placed on FoaBP and Nil Recurring (the mini album of stuff that didn't make it to FoaBP). I suppose that is to be expected as the last two albums are the reason PT were upgraded to the bigger venue; but I was only saying before the gig how Wilson seems to like to drag up a couple of old classics from the deep past, to please the die hard fans, and yet tonight, despite his cheery disposition, nada. It was like the 20th century didn't exist.
Special mention to Gavin Harrison who possibly made a claim for best drummer in the world at the moment. Colin Edwin was his usual odd self on bass (never knew he was an Aussie) and Barbieri looks like the band's music teacher. Wesley was adequate as Wilson's deputy and the man himself was, as noted, in a good mood and immaculately turned out in a sort of polished nerd sort of way. Musically it was more accomplished than last night's gig, these guys have been doing it longer; but the pandering to the nu metal heads made me wish I'd seen them in the 90s when no one had heard of them and they could noodle away on Post-Floyd type tracks until the cows came home.
Don't get me wrong, it was a good gig, but it was also just a little soulless.