This Steve Wilson article was written by Samantha Melrose. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse. Photos by Carl Glover and Camila Jurado
The Royal Albert Hall has a certain aura surrounding it, especially on a dark night, lights lit, surrounded by thousands of die hard Steven Wilson fans gearing up for what’s set to be an incredible gig. Wilson’s ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase.’ tour follows his fourth studio solo album released February this year.
The first set was taken up entirely by a full-length performance of this album. Wilson is openly captivated by the concept of story and music and with his ‘Hand. Cannot. Erase’ album he does just that; telling the story of Joyce Vincent, a woman who died in her city apartment and remained undiscovered for three years. As the album progresses it increasingly descends into a darker character, taking the audience on an authentic journey through the emotional downfall of a woman on the edge of collapse.
Of course after having performed his album start to finish, in the second set, Wilson continued to perform some old favourites from ‘Porcupine Tree.’ He also surprised the audience with a sneak peak of his forthcoming EP a track called ‘My Book of Regrets,’ which, if this track is anything to go by, will not disappoint.
The second set also featured two specials guests, which remained a true mystery until the show began. For the first time ever Ninet Tayeb joined Wilson on stage to perform the duet ‘Routine’. Her chilling vocals created a truly intense atmosphere, and this track was probably one of the most enticing moments of the entire gig. Additionally, Mikael Åkerfeldt a long term friend of Wilson’s and lead vocalist of Swedish prog-metal band Opeth, joined the band on stage to perform a live debut of ‘Drag Ropes’.
Not only was the gig technically flawless from a musical perspective, but the visual side of the performance was additionally faultless. The whole set was incredibly moving. One minute the entire audience was reduced almost to tears, to then performing a track creating the aura of spine tingling darkness, demonstrating Wilson’s aptitude to take an audience through a whirlwind of emotions.
The band cannot go without mention either. If this were just an instrumental performance it would still be a class act. Wilson carefully surrounds himself with immensely talented musicians, meaning each song was performed impeccably. Not only did they execute each song with immense accuracy, but the band commanded a dark presence which suited the set perfectly.
Wilson’s final song and encore ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’ couldn’t have been more fitting. A definite crowd pleaser and favourite among the audience of course accompanied by the short film.
It’s truly baffling how Wilson has never become a high profile act. His excellence has been proven over a career spanning over three decades, not only as a producer but also as a band member and solo artist. It’s rare to find an artist who can sound better live than on a recording. However Steven Wilson is a true rarity, and one of few people who this can be attributed to.