Porcupine Tree, 29 October 1999
Binario Zero, Milano, Italy
By Luca Benporat
Porcupine Tree has become a frequent visitor of Italy. The Milano show, that ends the second leg of the Italian Stupid Dream tour, is the 9th gig in our country in almost six months, which is a lot. The band has an important follow down here, especially in the Roma area, and has already been included in some of the most popular music shows of the national TV.
But this tour has something more special: the band in fact is writing material for the new album (working title: Russia On Ice) and wants to introduce to the audience a little preview of it. ĎNot so littleí, I may say, as the three new tracks that have been played on the road cover more than 20 minutes of the setlist. And to surprise the audience, Porcupine Tree decides to spin-off with a brand new number, Russia On Ice which Iím sure will be the masterpiece of the album, just like Even Less or The Sky Moves Sideways phase 1 were for the previous two albums. The track is approximately 15 minutes long, and itís rather experimental, with a little of Wilson singing, leaving to the music enough room. The audience seems to react quite well, although for many itís the very first listening of the track.
More familiar music follows: Waiting phase 1, Donít Hate Me (rather boring both on records and live) and the superb Signify. The band seems in a very good shape, and the versions from the more recent album seem upgraded from the first leg of the tour.
The band was supposed to play the second new number of the evening, Four Chords That Made A Million but they dropped it at the last moment. I had heard this song few days before at the Mantova show (24.10.99) and I have to say that, although being quite simple in structure and music, it has some appeals; a possible single for the new album. As always, Steve comes back onstage with his acoustic guitar for a short set: the tracks performed in this way are Pure Narcotic, Where We Would Be? and A Smart Kid that ends in a more conventional electric form.
Where We Would Be? is another new track, rather disappointing to tell the truth, as it begins with a slow percussive rhythm by Chris Maitland followed by the acoustic guitar and the singing. Not a good moment of the show indeed, but it seems the band likes this song a lot.
Back to the set, the audience greets the return of Even Less, introduced by a strange mini-intro by Steven. A real pity the band did not perform the song in its entirity (phase 1 & 2), considering that phase 2 had just been officially released on the Stranger By The Minute single.
Piano Lessons follows and then the masterpiece of the last album, Tinto Brass. This instrumental song is very well known in Italy, as Tinto Brass is the name of an Italian film producer (nothing to be proud of, filmwiseÖ) and the audience reaction is great. The Binario Zero is not a big venue, but the atmosphere is always a kind of magic.
Stop Swimming and Slave Called Shiver are more recent songs, but the good part of the show still had to come. Up The Downstair is one of the symbols of the psychedelic period from Porcupine Tree, and itís always a great pleasure to hear it live, as well as Radioactive Toy, with the audience singing along for the last chorus. This has been the 6th show of the tour that Iíve been attending, for sure the best one. The band seemed to enjoy the show and Italian audience, and Iím sure we wonít wait very long to see Porcupine Tree again on tour with the new album.
Russia On Ice
Waiting phase 1
Don't Hate Me
Where We Would Be
A Smart Kid
Slave Called Shiver
Up The Downstair