The final leg of Steven Wilson’s extended 2016 ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’ Tour has reached the US. I caught the band at the first date at Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon on Steven Wilson’s 49th birthday. Words and pictures by Tim Darbyshire.
In front of an expectant sell out crowd, birthday boy Steven Wilson and band delivered an expansive three hour set encompassing his whole solo career as well as delving into the Porcupine Tree back catalogue. The first set consisted of the entire ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’ album. ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’ was many people’s album of 2015, and it was a privilege to hear it performed again in full.
Instantly it’s evident just how good Steven Wilson’s band are. From the jazz tinged keyboard runs of Adam Holzman to the power and precision of 2016’s Drummer of the Year Craig Blundell, the smooth fluid guitar work of Dave Kilminster and the multi-talented stick man Nick Beggs, all are performing at the top of their game, complimenting without over shadowing main man Steven Wilson.
‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’ is a consistent album full of highlights. ‘3 Years Older’ begins proceedings like an unstoppable train, followed by the title track which is almost a catchy pop song in comparison, contrasting with the beatiful ‘Perfect Life’ and the powerful and emotionally moving ‘Routine’. ‘Home Invasion’ and ‘Regret #9’ offer Adam Holzman and Dave Kilminster the chance to shine, and before we know it, the heavy ‘Ancestral’ and uplifting ‘Happy Returns’ have brought the first set to a close.
The second set blended tracks from 2016’s ‘4 1/2’ – an interim mini album consisting of ‘orphaned’ songs from the ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’ and ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ sessions as well as a reworking of the Porcupine Tree song ‘Dark Matter’ – and SW’s earlier solo releases, with a smattering of Porcupine Tree offerings. The familiar curtain is dropped in front of the stage as the set closes with a barnstorming duo of ‘Vermillioncore’ and ‘Sleep Together’. The triple encore is brought to a close with ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’, which is described by Wilson as the best song he has ever written.
Visually of course Steven Wilson delivers a stunning spectacle with large screens and effective lighting. The stage at The Roseland Theater however is quite small meaning the full effect of the spectacle is occassionally lost. The video to ‘Routine’ remains as moving as ever…..
What’s next for man of the moment Steven Wilson? He’s heading back to the studio after this tour to work on material for his eagerly awaited fifth studio album, the follow up to ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase’. Let’s hope the results are with us sooner rather than later and he returns with a new tour at some point in 2017.
Steven Wilson – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Adam Holzman – keyboards
Craig Blundell – drums
Dave Kilminster – guitars
Nick Beggs – bass, stick, guitar, keyboards
First Set: Hand.Cannot.Erase.
3 Years Older
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Ascendant Here On…
My Book of Regrets
Don’t Hate Me
Sign “☮” the Times
The Sound of Muzak
The Raven That Refused to Sing