Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Steven Wilson in Luxemburg (@Rockhal, 21/03/2015)

About Halfway into the tour promoting his fourth and latest solo record Hand. Cannot. Erase, Steven Wilson paid a visit to my home country of Luxemburg.
Having been nominated on 4 separate occasions for a Grammy award, the London-born artist is one that needs little to no introduction to any fan of progressive rock.

More widely known as being the head of the band Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson's career has been a very expansive, having been taken part in a multitude of various musical projects, both as a talented musician and as an outstanding producer having earned himself some good recognition amongst some of the legends of progressive music (Yes, King Crimson, David Gilmour).

The artists' latest full-length effort,  Hand. Cannot. Erase., was a highly anticipated one, following up the widely acclaimed The Raven That Refused to Sing (And other Stories), an album crowned "Album of the Year" at the 2013 Progressive Music awards. Once more, Steven Wilsons' album was greeted with overwhelmingly positive critics, having been likened to Pink Floyds' legendary album "The Wall". Likewise, Hand. Cannot. Erase. has earned a solid spot on the top of my list for contenders for best album of 2015 so far. Needless to say, this current gig in Luxemburg was one that I had been eagerly looking forward to with high expectations.

For this current tour, audiences are treated to an incredibly rich stage production, with a giant screen at the back of the stage projecting images related to the universe of each album and song.
Before the start of the set, the show started with some images and field recordings related to the context in which the story of the latest record takes place. The beautiful shots of slightly grey urban landscapes and residential buildings helped to set up the mood, intelligently introducing the visual universe of the album to serve as an additional immersive medium.

Then came the time for the man himself and his band to hit the stage and kick the set off with the epic 3 Years older, the opening song off of his latest record. Tonight’s show was carefully tailored to revolve around Hand.Cannot.Erase, which was played in its entirety with the exception of one track. As Steven himself would explain at one point, the songs from his back catalog were also carefully chosen so as to fit in with the themes from the latest album, making up for a coherent and widely diversified set of songs ranging from his traditional progressive rock to poppier ballads to shoegaze and industrial inspired compositions. The song Index was rearranged and performed with a superb spoken word reinterpretation by Steven Wilson, giving it a strong Nine Inch Nails vibe to it, which marked but one of my personal highlights of the show.
Nick Beggs on Bass, Marco Minnemann on Drums
Everything seemed to be carefully planned out in order to maximize the immersive factor of the show, from the stage visuals to the setlist up to the 5.1 surround sound mix in the venue. Some recognition should also be given to the sound technicians, whose expertise brought us a flawless live sound.
Adam Holzman on keys

Playing alongside Steven Wilson were the same musicians as on his previous tour promoting The Raven that Refused to Sing (and other stories). Whether it be Steven Wilson, Guthrie Govan on guitars, Nick Beggs on bass, Adam Holzman on keys or Marco Minnemann on drums, everyone was at the top of their game and playing through each song with precision and feeling.

After closing off the storyline of the album, the show marked a brief intermission before a curtain was dropped in front of the stage, acting as a transparent second screen unto which images were projected while the band continued playing. The lighting and visual stage effects achieved through this stage setup created a dreamy, 3D feel and were absolutely breathtaking.
After closing off their set with the deafeningly epic finale of Sleep together, the band returned to the stage for The Raven that Refused to sing as an encore before closing off the show.
Guthrie Govan on guitar
Simply put, this show had me in absolute awe and dare I say reached perfection. With every single detail of the show having been handled with remarkable care, Steven Wilson has visibly gotten to the point where his live setup matches up to his immense creative vision and talent. With a flawless performance such as this one, it should become undeniably clear as to why Steven Wilson deserves to be recognized as one of the legends of progressive rock music. Quite possibly one of the best live shows I've seen.
Setlist for the evening

Photos by Elio Germani
PS : A huge thank you goes out to Steven Wilson, tour Manager Dave Salt and the Rockhal staff for their incredible hospitality, without which neither this article nor the interview would've been possible.
For our German-speaking readers out there, I also recommend you check out my friend Maximilian’s Gig report for the German website

For those living within reach of Luxemburg, be sure to be on the lookout for upcoming shows at Rockhal!

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