5th April 2005 - Porcupine Tree + Anathema, Cambridge
I set out thinking this would be a strange night. Two UK bands that
are not afraid to try something different, not afraid to move away from
the generic, NME manufactured bands a la Franz and Razorlight, would
be enlightening I thought. I thought right.
First on stage are Anathema. Looking at the merchandise you would be
forgiven for thinking they were a kind of grisly, death metal act, but
you couldn't be further from the truth if tonight's display is anything
to go by. They've toured with some big names, I have been told, Opeth
and Cradle of Filth (pre-mainstream, tongue-in-cheek era) to name but
a few. It's clear they are pleased to be supporting another intelligent
UK band in Porcupine Tree.
They come on stage at around 8 o'clock, and immediately the lead singer
has broken a string. A quick change of guitar, and they are ready to
burst into another tune. The bassist suits the death metal image that
is on display this evening, but they're music is mediocre and bland.
They fail to excite the half full Junction, which could have been filled
with cardboard cut outs for all I'd have known.
The lack of banter doesn't help them connect with the audience either,
the only memorable incident in the whole set was the guitarist asking
the crowd "Are you all Greek?" for some reason unknown to
man. Thankfully, they're not on for much longer. Hopefully headliners
Porcupine Tree will be slightly more exciting than a very disappointing
set by Anathema.
The Junction starts filling up at around 9ish, all eyes staring fixatedly
at the projector screen at the back of the stage. The black cover is
removed displaying a massive drum kit, and the first few images flash
up on the canvas.
Steven Wilson's Porcupine Tree emerge to rapturous applause, and break
into an epic number, the title track from their new album, Deadwing.
Ten minutes in and they're still on the first song. This will be interesting
However, my attention is temporarily drawn away from the music, to look
at the bassist, who seems to be constantly smiling. He also bears an
uncanny resemblance to ex-Man United and France 'keeper, Fabien Barthez,
which amuses me for the rest of the song.
Porcupine Tree's Prog Rock sound isn't really my cuppa, but I couldn't
help watch in awe as songs changed direction as many times as the lead
singer brushes his hair from his face. They have so many elements to
their songs, and somehow they all know exactly where they are. They
are an intelligent band.
With brand new album, "Deadwing" (Deadwig in Virgin Megastores,
as Wilson reminds us) appearing in shop floors the day before, it was
a chance for Porcupine Tree to show off new material, and it sounded
exciting, very exciting indeed. I can see Porcupine Tree's music working
so well as theme tunes to old, retro, MegaDrive racing games
Ignoring the first band, who previously, I was more excited about seeing,
this evening was well worth the trip. Check Porcupine Tree out, for
their breathtaking musicianship, great musical talent, ability to write
10-minute epics without getting boring, and, Fabien Barthez on bass.