Porcupine Tree, November 11th, 1997
Lemontree, Aberdeen, Scotland

By Bart Jan van der Vorst


Prog-rock meets Pub-rock

I was never too interested in Porcupine Tree. I knew the album The Sky Moves Sideways, which I thought was nothing more than a cheap Pink Floyd rip-off. Despite all the people trying to convert me, I desperately held on to this opinion. That was, until I found out last month they would play in my current hometown Aberdeen.

I was talking about it to Rob Crossland and the Marillion gig last week and he told me that I definitely had to see it and that I wouldn't regret it. He kept on raving about the incredible light-show (considering it being such a small band) so he kind of persuaded me.

So there I went, all by myself, as I didn't manage to persuade any of my flatmates.

The Lemon Tree is a really tiny venue, with a very tiny stage where all the instruments and equipment were stacked around a drumkit. Right in front of the stage there's some sort of dance-floor and there's a seating area in the back, where about 20 people were sitting when I came in. The bar was absolutely huge, I think about twice as big as the stage and during the gig it actually spread out more light than the stage and the noises at the bar even drowned out the music!!

I met Mark Kennedy and Stuart Mitchell of the Freaks mailing list with what must be the best pick-up line ever: "Hey, are you guys by any chance on the Freaks Mailing List??"
Together we chatted our way through the support act which was some guy with an acoustic guitar who sang some really dark and boring songs.
Not that I could hear him though, because the aforementioned noises at the bar were a lot louder than his thrumming.

At about five minutes to 10 a guy came up the stage who asked the audience to please stand up and come up to the stage, as the band would really appreciate that.
Altogether there were about 45 people present, of which at least 30 remained seated....

The band came up and started playing. The lightshow Rob had been raving about was mainly projected at the band, rather than at the backdrop screen behind the stage, because the whole stage was so incredibly small. This resulted in an almost invisible band. Not that that mattered, because apart from the drummer none of the members actually moved.

The several spots with hundreds of colours made the whole thing very nice to watch though, although I thing the show would have had so much more effect on a larger stage, although that would have made the 45-head audience even more tragic.

Anyway, these 45 people managed to produce enough sound to drown out a football stadium and I heard the latest news, the football and lottery results as well as some good jokes. It gave me the impression I had ended up in some pub, having a great night out, and I nearly forgot there was actually a band playing.
And everybody stayed in the back (or at the bar) during the performance. Steve Wilson actually had to ask the people to get up and come to the front to at least try to get *some* sort of vibe going on. Polite as the Scottish are, all of them stayed in the back (apart from the 15 people that already were standing near the stage).

Anyway, speaking of the band, I actually quite liked the music. Much better than I expected. They hardly played anything of The Sky... and most of the songs they played from their latest album Signify sounded miles away from The Sky.... Some of Steve Wilson's guitar-solo's were so sharp and high-pitched that it nearly made my fillings jump out of my molars - Loved it!!

Especially the drummer Chris Maitland made a great impression on me. He managed to play the most incredible, almost impossible rhythms. Keyboard player Richard Barbieri left me completely cold however. Being a lousy keyboard player myself I think I could even do what he did. Basically all he did was.... being present. He just stood there, like a statue and had some atmospheric seventies sounds coming out of his ancient keyboard stack.

Bass player Colin Edwin stayed in the back, leaning against his amplifier, playing very relaxed. The bass sound was exactly what the player looked like: Warm, easy and relaxed.
It were definitely the drummer and guitarist that stole the show.

Before the final song of the set (before the encore) Steve Wilson said: "Well, thanks for coming everybody, and who knows, we might even come back someday. So long as you don't forget to bring all your families along!" Actually that was the most he had actually spoken to us all night long, as in between the songs it was never much more than a thank you or good evening.

The audience was polite enough to applaud and scream when the band had left the stage, something the band really seemed to appreciate because when they came back for their encore they looked a lot happier than before they had left the stage.
However, as soon as the band started playing the applause was over and it was nine o'clock news, Eastenders and Aberdeen FC versus Glasgow Rangers again. *Very* annoying*

My motto says: "Never come home without a setlist" so I nicked a setlist off the soundboard. Quite convenient, as I didn't know *any* of the numbers they played. This is no rehearsal and Ambulance Chasing were introduced as new songs by the way.

Altogether it was a very nice gig, despite the annoying audience. This was the second concert I've seen in Aberdeen, and also the second time it was the bands' first time in the city. And most likely also the bands' last time, because of the low attendance and the very annoying audience. I wonder if that is the reason why all the other bands that have recently toured the UK (Marillion, Dream Theater, Genesis, Fish to name but a few) never went further north than Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Setlist:

Even Less
Signify
Waiting Phase 1
Waiting Phase 2
Sleep Of No Dreaming
Up The Downstair
This Is No Rehearsal
Moon Touches Your Shoulder
Ambulance Chasing
Moonloop (coda)
Voyage 34
---
Radioactive Toy

 

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