Gig Review: Backdoors, Bengaluru
Eclectic, intimate sets by Patrick Watson, JosÃ© GonzÃ¡lez and a stunning tour-closing performance by Steven Wilson
Three festival shows into Steven Wilson’s India tour, it may seem like the UKÂ progÂ partisan, knowingly or not, steals the spotlight everywhere he performs””whether closing outÂ Shillong’sÂ second edition of Bacardi NH7 WeekenderÂ in October, thrilling a crowd of 15,000-odd fans on Day 2 ofÂ theÂ PuneÂ edition, or ending the first edition of Bengaluru’s newestÂ music fest on a high (orÂ low, if you consider his penchant for “sad, melancholic music”). But that’s not to say Backdoors was simply a Wilson-centric show.Â Canadian singer Patrick Watson and Swedish folk artist JosÃ© GonzÃ¡lez’sÂ delicateÂ sounds created a bubble of intimacy, charming the few thousands who had gathered on the tennis lawns ofÂ IndiranagarÂ Club.
Despite cutting it close with Wilson’sÂ soundcheckÂ finishing half an hour before gates opened, Backdoors ran without a hitch.Â Besides, it was plain pretty””the Secret Garden theme saw the tennisÂ lawnsÂ transform into aÂ cozy, fairy light-illuminated, white canopy-speckled venue. But most importantly, Backdoors brought some of Weekender’s most popular, heavily attended acts together withinÂ a more laid-back, limited-capacityÂ setting.
A perfect setting, of course, for JosÃ© GonzÃ¡lez andÂ co.’s gentle folk sensibilitiesÂ that had listeners hooked right from the mellow opener “Crosses”Â (off the eponymous 2003 EP) to more pulsating material like “HandÂ OnÂ Your Heart.” GonzÃ¡lez and his band from acrossÂ London, Sweden and Los Angeles may haveÂ carried overÂ much of their Pune set from the previous day to Backdoors, but sounded freshÂ as ever through the 45-minute set, occasionallyÂ blooming intoÂ denserÂ material likeÂ “What Will.”
While GonzÃ¡lez presented his tunes with soft-spoken minimalism, Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson and his band had something different to offer. Resplendent lighting, goblets of smoke billowing across the stage, and an almost endearing sense of synchrony amongst the members were a constant as they pulled out crowd-pleasers like “Hearts” and “Drifters”.Â Watson for his own part, alternated between a baby grand piano and taking centerstageÂ as the band flittedÂ throughÂ slowburnÂ folk rock,Â pop rock andÂ evenÂ some avant-gardeÂ pianoÂ poundingÂ on “AdventuresÂ InÂ Your Own Backyard.”Â But even before Watson and baneÂ were through with set closer “Places You Will Go,” most onlookers were already headed to theÂ stage on theÂ other side of the court to secure a front-row spot forÂ Wilson’s big show.
For “show number 152”Â and theÂ “very,Â very last concert of theÂ Hand.Â Cannot.Â EraseÂ tour,” Wilson brought every bit ofÂ progÂ rock perfection to close out the debut edition of Backdoors.Â Quadrophonic sound andÂ mastercraftedÂ visuals are a given, making it less of a set and more of a spectacle to behold.Â ButÂ it was moments likeÂ DaveÂ Kilminster’sÂ sublime
And although WilsonÂ may haveÂ closed out withÂ one of the most depressing songs from his discography””“the best song I’ve ever written,”Â he declared””it’s safe to say the debut edition of Backdoors ended on a high.Â With the next edition of Backdoors already slated for the first half of 2017, newly accrued fans of the event won’t have to wait too long for the next set of international bands to landÂ in the country.
All photos courtesy of Backdoors/The Humming Tree.