Steven Wilson Live @ Milano 28/03/2013


We are in Milan, ready for the show of Steven Wilson and his band, for the last date of 'The Raven That Refused to Sing' European Tour, at the Teatro della Luna in Assago, which is famous for hosting major Italian tv shows, and is located right next to the prestigious Forum.

This time the story starts at the pre-show: we are delighted by having an appointment with Mr. Wilson, who will host a small group of us from the Italian Fanclub after the soundcheck is done. A few people but with beautiful artistic skills, they bring their works as presents to their idol. It all takes place in a few minutes, rare moments of intense pathos, then we have to leave to let the band have a well deserved snack before starting the show.

Sure enough the show begins: Steven sporting a No-Man t-shirt, one of his most important and long-lived side project, to emphasize that there is more beyond all this.
The set starts with the powerful Luminol, already brought on  tour last year, a song from the Wilsonian masterpiece, The Raven That Refused to Sing, which immediately makes us understand how the acoustics of the venue is not bad at all. The song is so
long that someone not accustomed to certain concerts believes that it were two songs. Following, we listen to the dreamy Drive Home and The Pin Drop, before the beautiful Postcard, a song from the album Grace for Drowning. Then something that had never been seen before: Steven picks up a bass and Nick Beggs instead grabs a Chapman Stick, to perform The Holy Drinker: this make the frequencies in the theatre drop significantly yhanks also to the Stick's sound, and I think the Teatro della Luna has never vibrated so much.
Again a song from the previous album, the dreamy Deform to Form a Star, before moving to the chilling Watchmaker: now the veil is dropped in front of the stage, which also was used in the previous tour, but with different timing; on it are shown videos that make the intro, along with the sound pattern by Bass Communion. This is really fascinating, personally I reach ecstasy in the next track with a resounding as it is disturbing Index; Marco Minnemann  is beating really strong and is also greatly able to simulate a passage which in the album is obtained electronically. The tone is slightly more sedate in the execution of epic track Insurgentes, taken from the first solo album by Steven Wilson, from which comes also the next song, the lovely and enthralling Harmony Korine.
From here on things will change: we are in a theater, with seats numbered, and Steven a
nnounces: "The choice of my agent was to have us play in a theater, but you can now get up and come close to the stage, I love to feel the warmth of the Italian public." Great! What would you have done? Personally not much changed, since I was already in the first rows, but it's cool to see an elegant theater where all people were sitting nicely
transformed in a messy concert hall. Well, that says a lot about the character of SW and how much he is loved by his fans.
A return to the still recent past with No Part of Me, when Steven asks Marco Minnemann for a small drum solo, announcing among other things, that this will be the last date for Marco with this band, because of previous commitments with Joe
Satriani. Drummer Chad Wackerman is going to take its place in the Steven Wilson & Band during the American leg.
An abridged version, unfortunately, of the suite Raider II performed without outro, but in the guitar solo by Steven I am literally amazed to see that Guthrie Govan can intertwine his guitar as and when he wants, with a manic millisecond precision, details that one really does not see every day, and it proves that with this guitarist Steven's band is more complete and homogeneous, indeed a plus. Govan was already playing with Minnemann in The Aristocrats, and both, in my opinion, fit in so well with SW's band, which best highlights their talent.
Finally, the song that gave its name to the tour as well as to the last album: The Raven That Refused to Sing, with Theo Travis temporarily leaving the brass to sit at the mellotron in the first part of the song, which is really great.
We are at the height of the evening and there is a short pause, with cheers, screams and whistles uninterrupted, in order to recall the performers on stage.
As soon as he's back Steven asks what song we want as an encore, and someone shouts "Free Bird!"
The answer was: "Do you think I've never heard this joke before?" (Free Bird is a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1973, and it's a tradition to  request it as an encore, to any artist. Similar scene also is on the DVD "Arriving Somewhere" by Porcupine Tree). Finally, Steven tells us that they will perform a track by Porcupine Tree, but it dates back to when Porcupine Tree were a one-ma band: it is the unique, imaginative, surreal, phenomenal, beautiful, mythological spiritual and also personally moving, Radioactive Toy, at its most impressive, twelve minutes, version, with the amazing and ubiquitous keyboards by Adam Holzman introducing this piece, performed with the passion and excitement that only a band of exceptional artists can put into a song.
The concert ends among the deserved applause rounds, while Steven introduces the rest of the band, that does not need to be presented, but a round of ovation is a great tribute we gladly pay to the individual artists who have given us such a unique evening.

Review by Evaristo Salvi Translate by Domizia Parri

Graphic elements are from CSS Zen Garden theme by Pierre Antoine Viallon (Creative Commons license), Lasse Hoile and Porcupine Tree.