Porcupine Tree, Sleep Parade @ The Tivoli, Brisbane (05/02/2010)

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One band that has developed a massive following well away from the mainstream arena is British prog rockers Porcupine Tree. Tonight this is all too apparent as The Tivoli fills with a variety of fans. From the veteran Woodstock hippie to the young surfer guy with the dreads it seems that the genius of Steven Wilson has touched more than the few close friends he originally intended the music for. The acoustics and the ambiance of the venue are perfect for a band with such passion and insight as Porcupine Tree.

Melbourne rockers Sleep Parade are the sole supports tonight. From their opening chords it is obvious that they have a large fan base in Brisbane and they launch into their set with energy. The band’s new additions are introduced to the crowd and it is clear they’ve given Sleep Parade a new energy, delivering their music with passion and power. Vocals seemed to be lacking in the power department as frontman Leigh Davies is, at times, drowned out by the music. However they still perform a solid set and latest single Everyday is a popular choice and standout song of the set. They deservedly receive a great cheer as they leave the stage.

Close to half an hour later, the lights dim again and a screen at the back of the stage comes to life, portraying an assortment of images that begin to unfold the story of The Incident, Porcupine Tree’s latest full length release. Written as a sort of musical novel about beginnings and endings, the first notes from the album reverberate through The Tivoli and bring depth to the pictures on the screen. With their music being described as melancholy, Wilson is anything but as he is in his element on the stage. After the first track Wilson explains to the crowd that the set list for the first part of their show will draw from The Incident before returning to the stage to play a selection of older tracks.

The fifty-five minute album is played in its entirety as Wilson switches between his guitar, keyboards and acoustic guitar. Time Flies draws a massive cheer as Wilson dons his acoustic guitar to belt out the opening notes, with Drawing The Line and The Incident also crowd favourites.

After a two minute intermission the English foursome return to the stage to give us an exceptional showing of their previous work. Wilson is truly an amazingly talented man, and he is backed up by an exceptional band as they hold the audience in the palm of their hands. The bass lines and guitar riffs mix in so well with the keys and percussion, and the vocals of Wilson and their live backing vocalist and guitarist John Wesley are strong and clear.

Porcupine Tree have certainly raised the bar high for live shows this year with a stunning performance and one wonders who, if anyone, could possibly top it.