Thursday, September 30, 2010

Porcupine Tree at Radio City Music Hall on 9/24/2010

New York Odyssey

Last spring, Porcupine Tree had announced that they would be playing two special shows at the end of the Incident tour, one in New York City at Radio City Music Hall, and the other in London, at the Royal Albert Hall. My friends, Ron and Alissa, and I immediately planned on going to the New York show.

Together, the 3 of us had seen 5 other stops on this tour in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The first show at the Rams Head in Baltimore, had occurred 364 days prior to this finale. We found every one of these shows to have been outstanding. With the exception of the San Antonio show, they had all followed the same format, two sets, each an hour in duration. The first set consisting the Incident in its entirety, followed by a second set of songs randomly selected, from their other albums.

This show however, was advertised as a three hour affair, obviously it was going to be different.

My history with Radio City Music Hall

While living in the Tri-state area, I had seen several shows at Radio City. The last one being Rush on their Signals tour, with Marillion as the opener, on 4/8/1983. The acoustics there are exceptional, so I was anxious to see another show there, after 27 years. (Holy shit, am I that old?)


Tree's fan base has steadily grown, they're not a secret anymore. It was clear that it was a sell-out or close to it. There were quite a few people walking the streets with band t-shirts on. As we waited outside for the doors to open, we spotted Jordan Rudess and John Myung of Dream Theater, among the crowd.

Theatre District, Sep 24, 2010

On entering the hall, we visited the bar, then the merch table, and then quickly found our seats. They were in row 3, but it was actually 8 rows back because there were about 5 rows of seats in the Orchestra Pit. None the less, it was a great vantage point.

Porcupine Tree at RCMH

The Show

After reviewing the usual places for the set list, there was this link to a photo, from a site in the Netherlands. (BTW, they did not totally follow the list in the photo).

As you can see, there were 3 sets. The first was unique in that it was Unplugged. Everyone with the exception of John Wesley and Richard Barbieri were playing acoustic instruments, with Colin on Upright! Steven announced sometime after the second or third song that tonight was going to be different, and that we were going to hear the Old Shit. The first set was phenomenal.

There were short intermissions between the sets, and at the conclusion of the first, I turned around to get a look at the hall. I was surprised to discover that Living Colour bassist, Doug Wimbish was sitting right behind me with his daughter. I'm sure that I would have been able to bird-dog other famous musicians in the audience. I'm also sure that this says something about Porcupine Tree. They are very clearly held in high regard by other artists (but I already knew that ;)

I think that like most PT fans, I enjoyed the second set the most, and was glad to be reminded how much I enjoy songs like Even Less. I also loved the hearing Arriving Somewhere for the encore. This show was three hours of auditory bliss.

Other observations about the show

Even though we were in the eighth row, there is a slight upward grade to the Orchestra Pit seats. Since many of the people in the pit chose to stand during a large portion of the show, this detracted a bit from the viewing experience.

I also noticed that since we were directly under the house mains above, that the sound was a little strange. Previously, I had always sat about 3 quarters of the way back in the house, which made for much better acoustics.

Out of the 6 PT shows I have seen in the last year, this was 2nd best. There was something very special about the Baltimore show at the Ram's Head. My friends and I, as well as the fanzine, Carbon Nation, all agreed that something special happened that night.

However, I will remember this RCMH show vividly for years to come, and I appreciate the planning and forethought that Steven and band put into this performance. Right now, I have to say that Porcupine Tree is one of the best live bands out there.