Porcupine Tree



by bnelso55 USER (29 Reviews)
October 11th, 2011 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A special and energetic "live" album with a set list that could have been better.

Pitfalls litter the way when it comes to effectively producing a live album. Whether it is a boring or excessively excited crowd, technical difficulties or cheap recording equipment, the project often seems destined to fail. Porcupine Tree manage to avoid many of these pitfalls on their live recordings and Warszawa is no exception.

It should be made clear that this is not a traditional live album. This recording is taken from a 2001 live broadcast performance for the Polish radio program III. This is an interesting album because the show actually takes place in a studio, not a concert hall. The audio quality is noticeably improved by that fact alone.

Also, a special invitation was extended to a small audience to give the show more of a “live” atmosphere. It was a good move. The sound of a crowd can often be irritating because of a few obnoxious people who only attended the concert to get their voice on tape. Here, however, it is clear the crowd actually came to listen and interact supportively with the band.

One great thing about this recording is the fresh, live energy the band injects into their old material. Tracks like 'Voyage 34' have never sounded better. Where the original studio effort was somewhat flat and overlong, this live version features a more metallic punch. 'Voyage 34' live is more focused and driven. The song’s structure is concise and the band even plays in perfect time with the narrations from the original recording.

Many of the narrations and samples from the song’s studio versions are maintained for this performance. The entire sample of a cultist sermon plays overhead while Wilson and the gang play out the final pieces of 'Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth…' and the sound of children at play is still perfectly audible in the opening of 'Lightbulb Sun'.

Other highlights from the show include the fan favorite, 'Even Less'. Once again, the band manages to infuse the power of the live setting into the song. Yet somehow, they still maintain the orchestral overtones of the studio version. This positive note also rings true on the massive centerpiece of the set list, 'Russia on Ice'.

A lone complaint with this album would be the narrow scope of the material. More than 80% of the songs come from Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun albums. Both of those albums are good, but after marveling at the fervent display of their older songs, 'Voyage 34' and Signify’s title track, one is left wishing for more variety in the set list. That perspective may be more of a personal one though.

As stated earlier, shortcomings are usually expected with live albums. A band does not have the studio resources to clean up their messes. Human error is a constant threat in the live setting. However, if a band is able to harness these dangers and use them to their advantage, a very organic, natural-sounding product could be the result. With Warszawa, Porcupine Tree reached those ends.

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user ratings (97)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 11th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Never reviewed a live album. Does this work? Had a hard time summing it all up.

October 14th 2011


review is generally good man

I too haven't reviewed a live album-there are several things to notice on each

as for Warszawa, i agree with the most you said. I just enjoyed the setlist cause Stupid Dream and Signify are my favorites

October 14th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the feedback.

Is there anyway I could improve the review do you think?

Those albums are really, really good. I was just sucked in by the signify and Voyage 34 tracks on here... I kinda wanted to hear more of that.

Apparently they played Tinto Brass on the night this was recorded, but it was not included here. That would have been cool to hear too.

October 14th 2011


I don't think you'll have to improve or change this

Imo, It would be better to focus on less paragraphs with more concentrated meaning, such as music description, flaws- advantages, comparisons with other works etc

your descriptions work well i think, what would be improved is in terms of form, in order to make the review flow. 8 paragraphs are too much and confuse the reader, as he is forced to stop.

That's my advice for the moment. You can try these on your next review, and leave this as it is , in order to be able to look to your improvement

October 15th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Good advice. I see what you mean. I will definitely keep those points in mind on the next review. Thanks again for checking it out!

March 15th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

Bass tone on Slave is so good and Voyage 34 is great

October 29th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I bought this album for Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth, and only realized it was a live recording after. The quality of the

sound and lack of the usual issues with a live recording left me wondering, at first, if it were really live at all or if they had put in

clips from a live performance. It was live; much respect to the band that can perform that well live (unlike some of our more

recognized bands. )

March 26th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

@PK - Agreed. I'm not crazy about everything this band has done, but one thing I cannot deny is that they are a solid live act.

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