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Live Reviews

Steven Wilson: Montreal, Canada, November 15, 2011

By Published: November 26, 2011
Wilson was clearly having a blast—theatrical, but still directly engaging both his group and the audience. He spoke rarely, but when he did it was clear he appreciated a house that lived up to the Montreal's reputation for having some of the most enthusiastic crowds around. That Wilson was able to launch a small-scale tour, with the audio and visual scope of a larger-proportioned rock performance, was a testament to his ability to think and deliver big, both through the increasing availability of affordable technology, and the strength of a road team whose sound and lighting engineers were as professional and creative as they come. With rear projections augmenting the music throughout the show, the series of images on "Index"—butterflies and spiders, but with ominously greater targets in mind as well—captivatingly mirrored Wilson's danger-laden lyrics. Stunning lighting combined sharper details with massively saturating washes and strobe-like flashes, while a quad sound system was used to great and largely subtle effect without ever being gimmicky—just like Wilson's surround album mixes.

But at the core of the performance was Wilson's set list, which proved that songs sequenced as 40- or 45-minute concept albums on Grace for Drowning's two discs could be re-sequenced to different but equally compelling effect, creating a series of climaxes that led to the thundering peak of "Raider II" and the aggro-noise of "Get All You Deserve." Demonstrating maturing strength as a solo performer, if he can continue Grace for Drowning's clear growth from Insurgentes with a follow-up that's equally evolutionary, it's well within the realm of possibility that—combined with word-of-mouth buzz from shows like this—Wilson may need to move to a larger, more Porcupine Tree-sized venue for his next solo tour.

Photo Credit
John Kelman

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