GIG REVIEW: STEVEN WILSON – “An Experience Of A Lifetime”
Steven Wilson is a legitimately highly venerated and exceptional musician, composer and producer. He is known for creating an amazing and unique package of rock, alternative, and pop, sometimes influenced by electronic parts. I (unfortunately) had never visited a concert of his before, so I was very excited about what I would see in the Swiss Life Hall this evening!
It was a long evening with Steven Wilson and his band at the Swiss Life Hall in Hannover on the 21st January. The British progressive rocker celebrated two and an half hours in the venue. This concert included impressive video recordings, brightly coloured light and shadow effects and a very likeable musician. It was split into two parts: the first part consisted of Steven playing all the songs from the album ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’ only, and after a short break, he played some new stuff of his new record “4 ½” (Click Here To Read Our Review) and some older songs in the second part. The crowd I met was a mixture of music fans of different ages, milieus and musical affiliations: young hipsters, grey-bearded intellectuals, cliché jazz fans, ‘normal’ people, and finally, the progressive rock and metal fans. As you could surmise from this, Steven Wilson delights a huge spectrum of people, and attracting so many different kinds of music fans is a thing not every musician can accomplish. Hats off to him for that, but back to the topic…
Steven had chosen an awesome group of very fine musicians for this gig: David Kilminster as the expressive lead guitarist, Craig Blundell with his crazy drum patterns, Nick Beggs as the smooth bass/guitar player and background singer, and Adam Holzman with his mad sounds and speedy fingers on the keyboards. It was totally worth it to see them all on stage; impressive!
Everyone in the venue became a witness of a well-conceived concept, and I was impressed by the sound in the venue as well. It sounded like the CD, but more powerful, especially when Wilson and Kilminster took their electric guitars and played some forceful rock. The first 75 minutes were characterized by melancholy, loneliness and raw beauty; illustrated in a wonderful way by wonderful videos and light arrangements the audience was led through Wilson’s songs from ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’ in the same conceptual order as on the record.The playlist had an awesome suspense curve, which was strengthened in the form of visual effects, perfect sound and guest singer Ninet Tayeb in songs like “Routine” and “Ancestral”. Steven didn’t talk much to the audience (with the exception of a very pleasant welcome and some short funny interjections). He just played the album in the way everyone would listen it on the record.
After a short break, the second part of the concert began, in which Wilson presented the new songs from ‘4 ½’. He explained the title of the record: These were songs which are still cool and fine, but never fit to a concept of an album before. So, this was a part between the 4th and 5th album. In his philosophy, it’s fine to release a record yearly – the reason why he wouldn’t wait to release the 5th album – and added the rhetorical question of what wrong with the music scene to wait for such long times for a band’s album. This statement was followed by a long and intensive applause. Before the song “Lazarus”, Steven made a speech about the death of David Bowie, stating that he deeply regretted his death, and also saw two strange strange coincidences about his death: Bowie’s song with the same name, and a ghost called David in the song text of “Lazarus”. So of course, Steven dedicated “Lazarus” to Bowie, followed by a big round of applause from the audience. “My Book of Regrets”, “Vermillioncore” and the duet version of “Don’t Hate Me” with Ninet Tayeb was played from the new record. Like “Don’t Hate Me” and “Lazarus”, other awesome songs known from Wilson’s other projects Porcupine Tree and Storm Corrosion were played, too: “Open Car” and “Sleep Together” for example. It was just a fine mix of different styles of music, again with a suspense curve, or rather, an awesome concept.
At the end of the concert, the entire band get standing ovations from the audience for this very awesome evening. So, Steven Wilson, Ninet Tayeb and the rest of the artists returned of course for an encore. It started with a David Bowie cover of “Space Oddity” together with Ninet for the last time in the evening, and ended with “The Raven That Refused to Sing”. The best thing about this section was that everyone in the venue was standing, dancing and/or singing until the concert really ended. What a wonderful atmosphere!
In conclusion, this was one of the best live experiences of my life. If you don’t know Steven Wilson’s music or don’t like much of it, just go to a concert by this incredibly amazing musician and let yourselves get fascinated by him. The music, concept of the setlists, crystal-clear sound, arrangement on the stage, visual effects and the musicians on the stage are really worthwhile to visit. Till next time, thank you for this awesome experience!