Porcupine Tree

January 10, 2007

You certainly can’t knock this live DVD from U.K. trance rockers Porcupine Tree for its production quality—the package design is aesthetically excellent, the audio mix cleaner than many major label studio releases, and the video editing superb (though the Avid guy arguably leans too heavily on the “grainy old film clip” plug-in). And Porcupine Tree’s charismatic visionary and frontman Steven Wilson pairs his hypnotic lead vocals with epic guitar solos all night long, making his performance at this Chicago concert quite mesmerizing indeed.

The only problem is that despite having all the necessary musical magma in place, Porcupine Tree’s performance is a volcano that never fully erupts. The molten PRS-through-a-Bad-Cat guitar tones are sizzling, the keyboard textures kaleidoscopic, the drumming (courtesy of the volatile Gavin Harrison) utterly explosive, and the odd-meter rock riffs crushing. Yet some viewers may find—and surely Porcupine fans (of which there are legions) will disagree—that most of the songs, though rich with melody, never quite lift out of the brooding, mid-tempo minor-tonality fog that saturates them, leaving them perhaps a tad too damp with melancholy to truly catch on fire. (Snapper.)
—Jude Gold

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