Concert Reviews

Concert Review and Photos: STEVEN WILSON at the Fillmore – San Francisco

The Fillmore | San Francisco, CA | 11 May 2018

Remembering back to the first time I heard the music of Steven Wilson, and I was at the library checking out a bunch of CD’s, when I came across the Porcupine Tree classic, In Absentia. I decided to check it out because everything I heard about them was fantastic. I got into my car and instantly popped in Porcupine Tree. 3 minutes into the opening track, “Blackest Eyes, I was instantly hooked…I was on a mission. I have never turned back since then.

Having collaborated with Mikael Akerfeldt (OPETH) on their project Storm Corrosion, to his ambient project ‘Bass Communion, NO MAN, and his work with Backfield, to his rather unknown project Incredible Expanding Mindfuck, Steven Wilson is arguably most well-known for his work with Porcupine Tree. He made an appearance on Dream Theater’s 2007 album, Systematic Chaos, on the song “Repentance”.

I arrived at the Fillmore around 8:30, and the line was still all the way down the street. He was scheduled to go on at 9 pm, I was getting quite nervous about getting in on time. I need to thank the Fillmore staff for getting everyone in. I got my position in the photo pit, waiting for the show to start.

The lights dimmed at precisely 9 pm. A short film called, “Truth”, was playing on the screen in front of the stage. I wish I could tell you what it was about, but the screen was about 2 inches from my face which made it quite hard to watch it. From the random giggles through the crowd, I figure it was quite humorous.

Steven walked out on stage to a thunderous cheer from the sold-out Fillmore, and they did not stop for the next 2 hours plus, playing two sets with a 15-minute break between each set. The first set was pretty much his latest release entitled, To The Bone, with a Porcupine Tree song, “The Creator has a Master Tape”, inserted in the middle of the set. Opening with the self-titled song from To The Bone. During the second song, “Pariah” – which he recorded with Israel-born phenom, Ninet Tayeb – Ninet’s vocal part was put on the video screens which was quite beautiful to witness.

My fan-boy moment came during the 3rd song titled, “Home Invasion”, when Steven switched from guitar to bass and walked over to where I was photographing him and stood directly in front of me and struck his rock star pose while staring directly at me for what seemed like eternity, but which was only about 10 seconds. Being able to photograph him from the photo pit has been a lifelong dream of mine… Bucket list accomplished!!

After a short 10-minute intermission, Steven returned to the stage to play a Porcupine Tree classic and favorite of mine, “Arriving Somewhere but not Here”. This is the part of the show I really enjoyed because he played quite a few Porcupine Tree songs including “Arriving Somewhere”, “Lazarus”, “Heart attack in a Layby”, and ending the set with “Sleep Together”.

Then, for his encore songs, he started out with a raw and stripped-down version of Porcupine Tree’s song “Even Less”, which had him on stage by himself with only his guitar and a really small. Even though I appreciated the creativeness to switch up the song, I would have rather heard the song the way it was meant to sound with a full band. Then he followed with another Porcupine Tree classic, “The Sound of Muzak”. For his last song, he sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar in hand and proceeded to talk about how he has never really had that one big song such as “Freebird”, “Stairway to Heaven”, or “Darkside of the Moon”. Pretty much everyone in the theater including myself was thinking that he may be playing his most popular and loved PT song, “Trains” – which he happens to NEVER play that song anymore – but it was not to be, as he finished his two-plus hour set with the song “Song of Unborn”.

Overall, it was the amazing evening with a brilliant performer, one that will not be forgotten.

All photos © Scott Martin


Scott Martin

Photographer - California - Bay area

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