concert notes: Steven Wilson – The Ritz, Ybor City, FL, December 13, 2018
Steven Wilson is an artist so prolific his discography (put together by a German fan, downloadable here) is over 500 pages long. Between his solo music, Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield, I.E.M., Bass Communion and other efforts, there is a long catalog to choose from at a concert. I was going to be traveling out of state the week he was in Texas, but was lucky enough to see him and his band at The Ritz in Ybor City. The fact that tickets were in the thirty dollar range, and it was a small venue was at once hard to believe and a great opportunity. Â Many thanks to friends Boyd and Ramzi for going with me; they head-bang almost as well as my gorgeous wife, and they stuck around to the bitter end. It was mostly a general admission venue, and we grabbed a place on the stairs (near a bar, of course) for a decent view of the stage.
It took me a while (almost a month) to put this post together, partially because of the holidays and travel but also because I went back and listened to a lot of these tracks and albums, including the versions of them from the recent live album Wilson recorded at Prince Albert Hall. I’d been using some of this music as my accompaniment during long runs for this half-marathon season – but some in this set I hadn’t listened to that deeply. I think I’ve now fixed that without intending to.
I first got turned onto Wilson and Porcupine Tree through Rush (all of my friends are groaning now). Alex Lifeson of Rush did a guest stint on the Porcupine Tree album “Fear of a Blank Planet” on the track “Anesthetize”. But this was the first time I was able to see him (and his bare feet) on stage in concert.
The band played for slightly under three hours, and covered a lot of ground.Â I couldn’t hear the names when Wilson announced them at the end of the concert (there was cheering and, as I mentioned, we’d found a spot near a bar…and I thought I heard him say something like “every band should have at least one female…”), but I believe this was the band (based on this photo); apologies if the lineup is incorrect:
- Nick Beggs – bass and chapman stick
- Craig Blundell – drums (website)
- Adam Holzman – keyboards (website – his new album is Truth Decay)
- Alex Hutchings – lead guitar
In his first conversation with the crowd, Wilson said even though most of his lyrics can be heavy and depressing that they were here to have fun.Â The “To The Bone” tour had been going on for a while, and the band were finding ways to amuse themselves. They were trying to make the drummer play out of sync by clapping off of the beat. Wilson said it was because of Japanese fans who did that to them…but Blundell didn’t miss a beat there or at our show.
Part way through the first set, he complimented the first row as the only first row on tour who watched him eye to eye and didn’t start at him through a smartphone camera. While I enjoy my snaps as a remembrance, I’m all for those artists that ban smartphones from concerts so that the fans are engaged (and not holding their phone in front of the person behind them).
Wilson also talked about the electric guitar as a waning art form, where bands these days are playing it up high instead of strung low. Â He cited Hendrix among others (and Prince later) for the coolness factor with which they played the axe and said he admired that they played their solos without looking at their instrument…which he vowed to do in the next track!
Longer songs at a concert is also a waning art form. I’ve put the times in the set list below as I really enjoy a long jam session that has continuity…and the ones in this set list were outstanding.
A short intro film called “Truth”Â started the setlist, showing images with words on them. The words started out as obvious, and then words that you wouldn’t associate with the same picture that was already shown were posted. The crowd started out boisterously cheering each slide…then slowly grew silent. Wilson as always is thought-provoking.
The setlist consisted of:
- 7 tracks from “To The Bone”
- 2 tracks from “Hand.Cannot.Erase”
- 3 tracks from “In Abstensia” (Porcupine Tree)
- 2 tracks from “Deadwing” (Porcupine Tree)
- 1 track from “4 1/2”
- 1 track from “The Raven The Refused to Sing”
- 1 track from “Fear of a Blank Planet” (Porcupine Tree)
- 1 track from “Stupid Dream” (Porcupine Tree)
- 1 track from Prince
So that makes 11 Steven Wilson solo tracks, 7 Porcupine Tree tracks, and one Prince track, and almost 3 hours worth of tunes…for $30. The album covers in the table below link back to Steven Wilson’s web site – click on the links, listen to the tunes, buy the man’s music so he can afford to tour! :)
The setlist table below is mostly from setlist.fm and partially from my memory. Times included are from the studio albums.
[table "38" seems to be empty /]