(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Capsule review - Steven Wilson

6 May 2013 (Boulder Theater, Boulder CO)

Rather than a full review, I just wanted to share a few observations:

Steven Wilson was incredibly punctual. The show was scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm. At 7:59, the band took the stage and the first notes of "Luminol" started at 8:00 on the nose. Then, it was a straight two hour set, followed by a 15 minute encore of "Radioactive Toy" from On the Sunday of Life (1991).

Wilson was almost as much a control-freak in concert as he is in the studio. The bulk of the audience was seated and he directed when people could stand en masse. At one point, after they had been standing, he indicated that they should sit down for the first section of the song.

Another one of Wilson's rules was that there was to be no photography, including cell phones. That order was lightly enforced, but most people complied. Wilson has said in the past that he wants his audience fully engaged without a layer of technology between them and the show. Aside from the single shots I took at the start and finish, I left the camera alone during the show and enjoyed it all the more.

The music was phenomenal. Wilson's backing band is packed with virtuoso talent. Nick Beggs was particularly impressive. His bass playing pushes the boundaries of the instrument. He was also very adept on the Chapman stick. Wilson's recent work with surround sound remixing was also relevant. Speakers were distributed around the room and several songs, like "The Watchmaker", took advantage of the mix to provide a home theatre experience in the hall.

Wilson has grown as a performer. The show had a similar feel to Get All You Deserve (2012), a concert video made during the Grace For Drowning tour. He was much more comfortable interacting with the crowd than earlier in his career. He seemed completely relaxed and engaged, even making some self-deprecating jokes and riffing on a small raven puppet that someone tossed onstage.

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