Porcupine Tree - November 9, 2007 - The Forum, London, England
By: Ken McGrath
To see a band that appeals to so many various types of rock fans, across generations, get so big is great. Tonight, in a packed out, literally full to the rafters Kentish Town, Forum, Porcupine Tree are proving just how simply astonishing they are. Even in the seating section of the balcony the fans of all ages are wedged, standing in every available spot. Downstairs you can observe a sea of heads shoved so tightly together that there’s seemingly only room to rock heads.
With a set constituting mammoth space rock tracks of epic prog proportions, you might expect things to get slightly, well, boring. But no, not for one moment do things let up. Seventeen minute long songs fly past, keeping your attention for the entire duration, showing what a mastermind Steve Wilson is in the writing department and highlighting just how good this band really are. Touring to promote Fear Of A Blank Planet an album which will no doubt be featuring in the upper echelons of many an end of year top ten, you’d expect them to at least play the title track. It doesn’t get an airing but the levelling “Anesthetize” does, along with an industrial tinged, buzzing “Sleep Together.” Strangely it’s not until much later that it’s even noticed missing.
The songs shift from soft, catchy choruses, to massive Opeth friendly metal riffs, to space rock wig outs, to ambience with ease, engaging the audience, on PT’s own terms of course, throughout. Encapsulating this is set opener “Way Out Of Here” while the closest you get to a ballad is the beautifully lush ‘Lazarus’. It feels like you’re witnessing something special here tonight as Porcupine Tree step up to a new level, one which they’ve been steadily building towards for the past decade or so. Everything on stage is perfect, you just stand back and let the music wash across you, the only threat being if you zone out too much you might fall down some steps. But it still demands your attention, especially during the occasional sing/shout-a-long bit, like in “Open Car,” which with it’s scratching riffs is utterly stunning sounding tonight.
One younger audience member is heard commenting sarcastically that he wishes he could get a hold of their backing track for tonight, obviously unable to believe that live music can be this good. It’s a little disappointing to think that people are so used to seeing fakes being presented as reality that they don’t know how to react when they’re finally presented with the real thing. However another fan, overheard referring to himself as a dinosaur and self-confessed ELP nut, enthusiastically raves about how brilliant they are. Able to span the gap between generations thankfully the majority of those in attendance, regardless of age, appear to be in agreement with the latter. Porcupine Tree could have played all night long and you’d barely have noticed the time passing, and you certainly wouldn’t have complained, for to get caught up in something this special is truly magnificent.