Review Summary: Enjoy a nice evening with Steven Wilson and John Wesley performing acoustic, stripped down Porcupine Tree songs for you.
On October 4th 2007, Orlando was given a very special treat. Porcupine Tree showed up for an in store performance and signing session at Park Avenue CDs. It had been planned originally for the whole band to perform, but due to the space limitations only Steven Wilson and John Wesley took the stage. The set list includes some songs heard rarely, if ever, live and this makes for a very intimate and special show. The set just contains vocals and guitar from the two, mainly acoustic though there is some electric guitar in a few of the songs.
After hearing the first few electric guitar notes and Steven softly singing, “We lost the skyline. We stepped right off the map. Drifted into blank space and let the clocks relapse.”
you can tell this is something special. This rendition of The Sky Moves Sideways
, while being greatly abridged, captures a tempered beauty of the original. Even Less
picks up the tempo right away and brings some energy to the stage. While it's great to hear this song on here, it's a little sloppy in one or two places. Overall it doesn't really derogate the song as a whole and it remains a welcomed addition. The third song is Stars Die
from 1993, and as Steven mentions on the album, it was also the first Porcupine Tree song to ever receive radio play. The acoustic rendition of this song is fantastic and it really fits well on this CD.
The first three songs are performed solo by Steven and for the remaining five tracks John Wesley joins the stage on electric guitar and backing vocals. Waiting
is the first track with John and it's a good change of mood. Despite it's lyrics, musically the song has more of a lighthearted feel. Next up is one of the highlights of the night, Normal
. It's the newest song on the set list and it comes from the Nil Recurring
EP. This song works really well here, especially the vocal harmonies of Steven and John going back and forth. It's the catchiest song of the night and beforehand Steven has a nice little anecdote about the difficulty in perfecting the song, he even messes up the intro and has to start over. It's something that adds a little humor and character to the performance.
I've always been a fan of Drown With Me
and it's perfectly suited for this performance. It keeps up the energy that the last track had, but in a different way. Lazarus
is the weakest song on the album. It's not bad but without the piano line it loses some flavor. After which is probably the most well known Porcupine Tree song on here, Trains
. It was the song that first got me into the band and it sounds great on here.
This is a wonderful collection of stripped down Porcupine Tree songs. It's a special set with some nice surprises and just an enjoyable listen all around. The sound quality and production for this live recording is really good, it sounds as if you're sitting next to a warm fireplace with Steven Wilson and John Wesley creating beautiful sounds as gifts to your ears. My only complaints are that I was slightly letdown with Even Less
, though my expectations could have been a little too high. And while I love Trains
, I almost wish that another rare treat would've been included in its place. Fadeaway
or Nine Cats
would have been very nice inclusions. Either way, I highly recommend this to both fans and even non-fans of Porcupine Tree.