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Porcupine Tree Conquer Mumbai

Since it’s the first time we’re playing here, we thought we’d play you a mix of songs, some old ones, some newer ones…” said a smiling Steve Wilson, two songs into Porcupine Tree’s 100-minute set at their first ever performance in India on December 21 at IIT Bombay’s annual rock festival, Livewi

Deepti Unni Nov 08, 2010
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Since it’s the first time we’re playing here, we thought we’d play you a mix of songs, some old ones, some newer ones”¦” said a smiling Steve Wilson, two songs into Porcupine Tree’s 100-minute set at their first ever performance in India on December 21 at IIT Bombay’s annual rock festival, Livewire. If the cheer from the 5000-strong audience was not as loud as it should have been, it was only because the band had just dropped ”˜Occam’s Ra­zor’ and ”˜The Blind House’ (from The Incident) on the unsuspecting crowd in all their visceral power ”“ crushing riffs, goosebump-inducing vo­cal harmonies, ethereal electronics and chaotic visuals blended into a sensory overload package like no other. The audience, at this point, hadn’t even begun to take it all in.

Arguably the most anticipated gig of the year, Porcupine Tree’s India appearance followed in the wake of the spectacular and en­tirely unprecedented success of their 2009 album, The Incident. The set for this show, their 53rd in the tour, was to consist of The Inci­dent played in its 55-minute entire­ty in the first half, to be followed by a few songs from their back cat­alogue. But unsure of Indian au­dience’s familiarity with the new album, the band played a mixed set of some well-known songs and some lesser heard ones. (”˜Hatesong’ from Lightbulb Sun was a particu­larly pleasant surprise.) The rest of the set was divided in equal parts between In Absentia, Deadwing, Fear of a Blank Planet and The In­cident.

Porcupine Tree are already a powerhouse on their studio al­bums, but live, the band is a force of nature. Every nuance of Wilson and sessions guitarist John Wes­ley’s playing, Richard Barbieri’s keyboard phrases and textures, and Gavin Harrison’s intricate polyrhythmic drum-work was felt rather than just heard. Danish photographer Lasse Hoile’s visuals of exploding galaxies, fire-breath­ing gargoyles, living puppets and ubiquitous trains freewheeling across three screens rounded off a concert experience unlike any seen in the country so far.

The audience, in turn, lapped up every nuance of the perfor­mance, singing along to even the more obscure numbers, but loudest on ”˜Blackest Eyes’ and ”˜Trains’ from In Absentia. Wrap­ping up the set with an unexpected finisher ”“ ”˜Halo’ from Deadwing ”“ the band took their bows to thun­derous applause. And for all those couldn’t get enough of the band, they have confirmed their plans to make India a regular pit-stop on their tour circuit, so expect to see a lot more of Porcupine Tree in the future.

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