A lot has already been said, a lot has already been written, about STEVEN WILSON, mostly using words in superlative. And those who did were right. His fourth solo record, Hand. Cannot. Erase, is once again a masterpiece, of course. Last year STEVEN WILSON was already extensively touring in support of this record, mostly booking special locations, seated, playing a special set, most of them sold out. We have been there in Cologne (live report here), a truly awesome and emotional experience.
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One year later STEVEN WILSON embarks on the second part of his Hand. Cannot. Erase European tour, again at special places, if possible, seated, with a special set. And of course we wanted to take part in this tour again. STEVEN WILSON is such exceptional musician with an excellent band, great music and fantastic live shows. So, who can resist?
Our first live show in 2016 lead us and :: STEVEN WILSON :: to the historic • Jahrhunderthalle • in Bochum, Germany, located in the beautiful Westpark, built on the foundations of the Mayer cast steel company. It became a 2 days event, since the actual show on Friday sold out quickly. Tonight’s show is the additional one, almost sold out too.
So far so good, one could say. A repetition of last year’s show at a different place, perhaps with a slightly changed setlist. Far wrong! On this Thursday so many things have changed that this show appears in a completely different light.
There is of course the passing of David Bowie, who had a significant influence on STEVEN WILSON. One of his first records he was given as a child was a Bowie song, and one of his first singles bought with his own money was a Bowie single too. Here and now I would even dare to state that STEVEN WILSON is one of not so many musicians able to accept Bowie’s musical inheritance. I’m pretty sure that WILSON will once leave a likewise important legacy.
Another fact is the coming release of 4 ½, the album in between, a 6-track EP bridging Hand. Cannot. Erase and the new album WILSON is working on. Three songs got played from this new piece.
And then there is your own affecting burden that turns an already emotional STEVEN WILSON show into a lake of tears, especially with songs such as Routine.
The significantly longer set tonight was kicked off by the extra long intro First Regret with the bleak tower block scenes on the big screen behind. This time the intro set in before the show time what made fans quickly taking their seats, so that there was no flurry of moving people anymore, when STEVEN WILSON started the show on time with the so stunning and completely played record Hand. Cannot. Erase. Routine sees the wonderful :: NINET TAYEB :: entering the stage to perform this song as she does on the album. What a voice! What an excellent musician. What a, yes again emotional, performance of an under your skin creeping and so deeply touching song.
The line-up of the band has slightly changed as Marco Minnemann and Guthrie Govan are otherwise involved. Next to Nick Beggs (bass) and Adam Holzman (keybords), STEVEN WILSON introduced us to Dave Kilminster (guitar) und Craig Blundell on drums.
As the perfectionist STEVEN WILSON is, the sound was once again brilliant! Especially in this huge hall the sound was perfectly balanced. Even more, the sound was not only clear and differentiated, you could FEEL the sound! No idea if that was due to the special acoustic of the hall or if that was due to a special floor… However, last time I was able to feel a sound was in an old wooden church in Amsterdam, known as the Paradiso, were GY!BE was playing in 2011. Absolutely breathtaking, stunning, unique!
Tonight’s show was separated in two parts. The first one, as mentioned, was the Hand. Cannot. Erase album played in its entirety. It followed a 15 minutes break (or 20?), accompanied by the wonderful music of Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore. The second part consisted of cover versions and three songs from the upcoming EP 4 ½ (to be released on January 22 via Kscope), with two songs from the Hand. Cannot. Erase session and the Porcupine Tree song Don't Hate Me, once again in duet with Ninet Tayeb.
Even with a playing time of more than 3 hours fans didn’t want to see STEVEN WILSON go. Standing ovations and frenetic applause brought the band back on stage for an encore. The first one was the Porcupine Tree song The Sound Of Muzak and the second one… turned out to be the most touching, the highest emotional moment, the greatest and biggest grand finale of all times… the David Bowie song Space Oddity, as a duet by STEVEN WILSON and Ninet Tayeb. A homage and a deep bow to David Bowie. While I was fighting tears all the time during the show, now you could hear people sigh and snuffle from everywhere and see people wiping away tears secretly. What a show! What a roller coaster of feelings and emotions. Incredible! Seems like the first show in 2016 marks already THE highlight in 2016. Can’t imagine how this could be topped now. Now definitely one of my top 5 all-time faves!
Setlist: First Regret, 3 Years Older, Hand Cannot Erase, Perfect Life, Routine (with Ninet Tayeb), Home Invasion, Regret #9, Transience, Ancestral (with Ninet Tayeb), Happy Returns, Ascendant Here On... // Drag Ropes (Storm Corrosion), Open Car (Porcupine Tree), My Book Of Regrets, Index, Lazarus (Porcupine Tree), Don't Hate Me (Porcupine Tree - with Ninet Tayeb), Vermillioncore, Sleep Together (Porcupine Tree) // The Sound Of Muzak (Porcupine Tree), Space Oddity (David Bowie)