GIG REVIEW: An Evening With Steven Wilson & Bruce Soord Live at Celebrity Theater, Phoenix
On Wednesday November 9th Steven Wilson played the Celebrity Theater with support from Bruce Soord in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a rather chilly evening which was a lovely surprise out here in the desert. This was the first time I have ever been out to this venue and it has one of the most interesting set ups. The stage was in the middle and all the seats circled around the entire venue. This made it a much more intimate setting for the bands and both the audience. It was a bit of an older crowd for the night and several people attended for a Wednesday.
The show started on time and first up we had Bruce Soord. This was his first show on this tour and the British guitarist did an amazing job. The dark lighting and cool temperature helped with the dark ambiance of the night. I was pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastic the crowd was. As soon as Bruce began all eyes were on him. His set was rather short but filled with raw energy and power. Although he was performing a solo acoustic set he really did a phenomenal job. His voice was very captivating and the crowd really cheered and appreciated his set. He played songs from his band The Pineapple Thief.
It was time for Steven Wilson to hit the stage and we were all in for a very long and interesting night. The first part of the set was the album “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” Steven told the crowd that this album was written and fueled by the stages of grief. On stage the band had a projector behind them playing mini movies and clips that went along with every song. These films we watched added to the dramatic effect to explain and express the emotion and idea behind the song. Everything from claymation to actors were on these clips and it really helped transport you into the song itself. It was a rather melancholic performance with a lot of energy. The music was very interesting from highs to lows. The guys managed to create an “experience.” The whole band played with lots of emotion and heart which radiated off them to the crowd. There was a lot of thought and hard work put in to create a tone and an atmosphere. They took us on an emotional journey which was quite beautiful. After they finished playing the whole album in its entirety the band took a break to gear up for the next act.
The second half the set featured Porcupine Tree songs. This meant that the songs were heavier and it really made the energy shift in the room. I enjoyed the second half of the set and how Steven took more time to explain the purposes of why he wrote some of the songs and why he chose to play them. He spoke very eloquently about the music world today, how things have changed over the decades and his perspective on creating art and viewing it from both ends. He paid tribute to musical idols that have passed this year which are David Bowie and Prince. He elaborated on their mark and history they have left in the world and how they inspired him. The 2 songs that stood out the most to me had to be “Lazarus & Sleep Together.” “Sleep Together” was my favorite because it was so hypnotic. The red and blue lighting and sound of chaos that is the song made everyone in that room fall into a trance.
Over all the show was incredible. The simplicity but raw power from Bruce Soord’s acoustic set with the beautiful emotional and heavy music from Steven Wilson made it an extraordinary night.