Porcupine Tree
Anesthetize


4.0
excellent

Review

by OmairSh USER (13 Reviews)
October 10th, 2012 | 52 replies | 8,053 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you were wondering what the visual equivalent of Porcupine Tree’s archetypal exquisite sonic production qualities would look like then you can cease your wondering as of now.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Live DVD’s are usually an occasion for jubilation for music fans, especially for those who don’t get to see their favourite bands in concert because their country is too unstable for the record label to allow the bands to travel there, or because when the bands are granted permission, the band travels to a city which is 15 hours from where said fans live. Hence DVD’s are released to quench that thirst for live performances, and when a certain band named Porcupine Tree (PT) decides to release a DVD your blood is bound to run to areas of your body you didn't know existed. And if there’s one thing you can be certain of, it’s that there’s one word that will not be compromised on, quality.

PT is renowned for its superb sound quality and therefore it’s no surprise that the production has been handled by the band itself, while the mixing of both the stereo and 5.1 audio tracks is taken care of by Mr. Steven Wilson. This leads to terrific results as expected but unfortunately since I am finicky I had my minor gripes with things including; the distorted guitar tones which at certain times were a bit too heavy and unpolished for my liking, and Gavins snare drum and tom-toms which needed a bit more “warmth” and reverb in my opinion (they sounded much better on the Arriving Somewhere… DVD). Also the mix could’ve favoured the keyboards slightly more, especially during the heavier sections where they got drowned mainly by both the guitars.

These are only minor reservations and probably won’t bother most of the viewers. On the plus side the remaining instruments are very audible in the mix and feel very cohesive as a result, specifically the brilliant rhythm section. Likewise the clean guitar tones, Richard’s keyboards and Colin’s bass sound fantastic.

The direction of the DVD was handled by longtime collaborator Lasse Hoile (the man with pretty morbid fascinations), whose experimentation on the previous DVD was met with some criticism. The effects were accused of being distracting and detracting the viewer from the band’s performance. Personally I enjoyed them. This time though he didn't tamper with the video, just with the selection of the cameras during the editing. There are plenty of cameras at his disposal with the most interesting camera placement being below the tom-toms, which can be seen during the intro of “Anesthetise”. The camera work is good and runs the gamut from extreme close ups of the band members, which with the HD quality can allow you to assess how long it’s been since Steven Wilson last shaved, to distant views of the whole stage, and shots of the mesmerised faces of the audience. It really makes you feel like a part of the experience.

Some of the songs have accompanying video projections; however these can only be properly appreciated from certain camera angles. A few close ups of the screens during certain sections of the songs, and more usage of interesting camera angles would’ve really been impactful and I think should’ve been executed. The presentation is completed with the lighting, and plenty of gorgeously vivid colours have being used to enhance and alter the moods according to the songs and to really capture your attention, especially in songs like “Cheating the Polygraph” and “What Happens Now?”.

The set list has been divided into 2 segments more or less, with the first segment consisting of the whole Fear of a Blank Planet album, and the second with a slightly wider array of songs. If you’re a fan of the older PT the set list won’t tickle your fancy as only 3 of the 17 songs are from before the current “metal” era of the band, and all of them are from the Signify album. Even I, being a fan of the modern PT, was less than thrilled with the set as I had been longing to see songs like “Russia on Ice”, “The Sky Moves Sideways” and “Fadeaway” being performed in pristine HD quality. On the other hand a positive aspect of the set list is that only one song overlaps with the first DVD, and unsurprisingly it’s “Halo”.

Finally we have arrived at the most important part of the DVD, the performance itself. What more can you expect from such an esteemed live band? As expected the performances are absolutely stellar. Only John Wesley slips up here and there, and personally I've never been a big fan of his solos. Otherwise the musicianship is extremely tight, and every note is played perfectly without seeming contrived. It says magnitudes about your class when the live renditions of the songs are as good, if not better than the album versions. Everyone’s a joy to watch, especially Gavin and Steven, who are tremendous live performers. I am such a huge advocate of Steven’s guitar playing and think he is ridiculously underrated, truly a beast of a guitarist! Steven also shows us that he’s no novice at playing the keyboards live either (he regularly composes with them in the studio), and its good because it adds an interesting dynamic to the mix. You even see Richard smiling, more than once. That is probably reason enough to get this DVD.

My only complaint is that they don’t improvise any more like in the days of yore. You would think Gavin would, with his extensive jazz background, and we all know Steven's a big fan of experimentation and improvisation. But I digress, this a magnificent achievement indeed, and a strong addition to their already splendid catalogue. An excellent standard by which live performances should be judged. Very recommended for fans of Prog rock/metal.

I’ve given it a 4 mainly because of the set list, on other aspects it’s a 4.5+.


Special Mentions

• Guitar playing on “Fear of a Blank Planet” and “Cheating the Polygraph”, which has the solo of the night (Stevens wah-wah skill is incredible!)
• Bass playing on “Normal” and “Anesthetise”
• Drumming on “Way out of Here” and “Cheating the Polygraph”
• Keyboard playing on “Sleep Together”, and keyboard solo on “Normal”
• Guitar tone on “Sever” and "Sentimental", terrific!
• Vocals on “Half-Light”
• Steven's keyboard tones
• Steven's extreme pop tinged vocals at the end of “Drown With Me”, I love this guy

Standout Tracks

• Fear of a Blank Planet, now thats how you start a show.
• Sleep Together! The song has been given a whole new life with the really heavy guitar work!
• Half-Light



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Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2012



3327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review man. Pos. I love this DVD, it made me appreciate Way Out Of Here more than the studio version. Also, I love Sever and Sleep Together as it isthey are on the album version, but here they have more power, it's even better.

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breakingthefragile
October 10th 2012



2943 Comments


Great review. Get rid of the band members listing though, it's uneeded.

Digging: Glassjaw - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know...

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks. Yeah I thought the band member was a formality, last minute addition. Yeah man Sleep together is INCREDIBLE here! Set list really let it down though, I mean I want to give it a 4.5 to a 5 for everything else.

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insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2012



3327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can't wait until Octane Twisted comes out, I'd love to see The Incident live. The setlist is relevant for the tour, but otherwise, some would find it a bit too concentrated on Fear Of A Blank Planet. This is more for the fans rather than newcomers. Same will go for their upcoming DVD as it unfortunately showcases the 55-minute suite only.

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know, The Incident didn't really do it for me. There's Russia on Ice on just the CD version, again.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2012



3327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love the album most, don't know why, maybe because they feel more introspective. It's the most scattered, but I love tracks like Time Flies, I Drive The Hearse, Drawing The Line or Bonnie The Cat. The others are great too. Yeah, I think Russia On Ice sounds even better live with all the ambient tones in the beginning and the metal outburst at the end would be even more powerful. Don't know why they decided not to put the others on the DVD.

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe they don't bother because no one on sputnik reviews their dvds haha. You know the album isn't bad per say, and there are great tracks like you mentioned, I love I drive the hearse and yellow windows, Bonnie the cat and time flies are great, all the smaller tracks are good as well like the seance, but it does feel disjointed. But hey a new PT release is something to look forward to.

johnnydeking29
October 10th 2012



8976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This rules so hard, add Dark Matter to the standouts

Digging: Naked City - Radio

Manic_
October 10th 2012



447 Comments


"You would think Gavin would with his strictly jazz background"

strictly should be changed to extensive or something else, with that said Gavin is a beast.

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dark Matter never really clocked with me, I liked the demo version more "Dark Origins". It's atmosphere and female vocals are absolutely gorgeous and trance-esque.

Emyay
October 10th 2012



5768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love this bluray. fear of a blank planet is one of my favorite albums so no complaints here. good review. pos

Emyay
October 10th 2012



5768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nah not really

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Emyay. Yeah Fear is a terrific album and is performed very well on the DVD. It's just that damn setlist.

Emyay
October 10th 2012



5768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, its not ideal. what tracks would you have liked to see?

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Russia, The sky part 1, Nostalgia factory (long shot), Signify, Waiting, Voyage 34 phase 1, Disappear, Tinto brass maybe. There are quite a few, but any of these would've been good.

Emyay
October 10th 2012



5768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol literally none of those would be on my list. not hating, i just haven't lstened to older pt much.

i'd like to see: last chance to evacuate, shesmovedon, mellotron scratch, open car, prodigal

johnnydeking29
October 10th 2012



8976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Waiting would be sweet, agreed

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 10th 2012



15785 Comments


Really good review, Wilson's a cock but a talented cock for sure. Pos'd.

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

OmairSh
October 10th 2012



9959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks menawati, haha isn't it annoying when you enjoy the music of a "cock".

@Emyay HOW DARE YOU DISAGREE WITH MY OPINION! Naaah its aight its aight. I wouldn't mind the songs that you mentioned, they're great songs, would love to see shesmovedon's solo live. Open Car was on the last dvd and prodigal can get king of boring, the 2nd solo is killer though. Older PTs also good, takes some getting used to though. Oh and Ambulance Chasing from the Recordings B-sides album would be pretty cool.


KILL
October 10th 2012



70563 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

emyay is dumb agreed

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