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Prog Rock Branches Into
New Horizons

Porcupine Tree
Double Door
Chicago, IL
July 29, 2002
Porcupine Tree
Porcupine Tree get in the mood.

Review by Scott Stegenga
Photos by Barry Brecheisen

OK, I'll admit it. When faced with the task of doing concert reviews, everyone has that special bias. With those biases come obvious disagreements that aren't even thought upon before any analysis. You know you'll like it or not no matter what anyone says. Such is the case for progressive rock and this reviewer. Most outsiders like myself believe it has its own unique fan base consisting of mostly men in their late 30's who have no jobs and live in their parents' basement. Their weathered-out posters of 'Trout Mask Replica' and 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' hover over their beds next to a sophisticated hi-fi stereo with a turntable that's second to none. Such was my initial prediction for attending the return of UK prog-rock massive Porcupine Tree at their recent Double Door appearance.
Porcupine Tree Now I'm not the biggest expert on the genre, but I've dabbled in some current progressive rock listening territory myself with a keen ear pointed toward bands like Dream Theater and Marillion. Porcupine Tree are, in a way, a bit unique in their territory. Yes, the music is filled with soundscapes and long jams that culminate from frenzy to form, but the sound contains more rock-riff heavy melodies than the average psychedelic counterpart. Dare I say, sometimes the riffs come as jangly as a Britpop export.
The show opening "Blackest Eyes" propelled the audience into a swirling maelstrom of lights and sounds as singer Steven Wilson, barefoot and wearing dark "Lennon Specs," led the audience on a 90-minute musical journey into sonic oblivion and included a few teasers to their forthcoming new album, 'In Absentia.' Song after song blended into each other with few major pauses as the crowd were taken up into the clouds with "Strip The Soul" (another new track) and "Shesmovedon" and then back down again with "Hatesong" and "Even Less". "No requests" was the only request Wilson had for the crowd, as each tune seemed to have a purpose in their sequence.
So with all the audience description and not-so-perfect knowledge from this reviewer, I'll say this. It was a good show. Porcupine Tree are a good band for the beginning progressive rock listener. Their live show had few boring points and the sound from the 5-piece was with few flaws. I prefer jam bands in this realm than other hippie acts who merely play over their parts in solos during the same song. Progressive rock may never get the big audiences like before, but maybe that's a good thing. Sometimes its better to hear music like this in a more intimate setting so the experience is better received and the focus is more apparent than getting lost in a larger landscape.

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