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Porcupine Tree - Anesthetize CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree


Heavy Prog

4.66 | 557 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars THE definitive live recording.

After having seen Porcupine Tree live earlier this year, my anticipations and expectations for this new DVD release were running absolutely off the charts, and they have been blown away in every sense by the quality of this release. As far as quality and care in production goes, Porcupine Tree seem to be the current headlining act - wonderful album presentation and artwork, brilliant production qualities in all their releases and perfect products all round. This package absolutely blows ANY thing I've ever owned away as far as the quality of the packaging and quality of recording go.

The edition I am reviewing is one of the Red DVD/Bluray/2CD special editions, limited to 1000 copies. Even though this came with a high price-tag, it was absolutely worth every sense for the overall quality and care that went into producing these wonderful products. To begin with, the physical book looks absolutely stunning from the outside, and the discs on the front and back cover are brilliantly presented. The photos inside the booklet are brilliant, high quality prints on high gloss paper - amazing photos composed of some album art from Fear Of A Blank Planet, several pages of the original art made for this package, and the rest is composed of live photos from Porcupine Tree from 2005 up until now. All the items are amazing, particularly the live photos - absolutely stunning stuff. My impressions were met before I even watched the concert!

Now, onto the Bluray of the concert. As was mentioned before, this is an absolutely stunningly produced live film - the lighting and filming is much cleaner than their previous DVD, 'Arriving Somewhere', and this recording also offers a much more genuine live sound than the previous. The lighting is amazing, and the live projections are fantastic accompaniment to the darkness (or lightness) of the tracks being played. The performances in the concert are also much more polished, providing a closer to studio, although still incredibly intense and real atmosphere. From the amazing ambiance of Half-Light, to the horrifying distorted vocals during Sleep Together and the eerie break in the middle of Wedding Nails, the meticulously rehearsed live performances absolutely complement their equally brilliant recording, mixing and production of the live film. It's worth noting that, like their previous DVD release, Steven Wilson did all the mixing and mastering for the audio component of this live film.

Onto the setlist - The epic title track from the band's 2007 metal masterpiece 'Fear Of A Blank Planet' opens the show up in dark ambiance, with SW playing the opening riff at breakneck speed. The fury and anger tossed around is unbelievable; and like all other PT live performances, it demolished the studio version as far as quality and performance are concerned. My Ashes is a highlight, with the band's backing vocalist and guitarist taking the main guitar and manning the vocals for the chorus, with Steven on the piano. John Wesley's vocals for the chorus are stunning; absolutely blows away the studio version. Of course the fan-favourite epic Anesthetize was going to be played, and rather perfectly in this reviewer's opinion. The performance is stunning and the overall mood changes and light shows couldn't have suited better. As mentioned before, Sleep Together has a truly frightening atmosphere. The second set, following Fear Of A Blank Planet, contains a fascinating setlist, spanning from Signify up until their most recent release at the time of this concert, ' Nil Recurring'. 3 out of 4 tracks from Nil Recurring are played, and 3 tracks from Signify are also played - it's great to have these live recordings, as the band rarely delves into their first 4 albums in live performances. Another particular highlight is on Half-Light, when Steven Wilson mans a guitar with an HD display built in, and this is the first every recording of the live use of such a guitar. The only small complaint I have with this setlist is the exclusion of Stars Die - a stunning track, although a shame we haven't got the recording.

The band are all on absolute fire during this show - Gavin's drumming is as nuanced and unpredictable as ever, offering small and tricky fills where they weren't on the studio recordings. From some tracks which I now have 5 recordings of (namely Halo), Gavin still manages to mix up the drumming every time, and on tracks like Normal, it's hard to believe such a drummer exists. Colin is a much larger stage presence than on their previous DVD and confers more wonderful bass lines and thumping originality than expected of most bass players. Steven Wilson is, as expected, the leading man of the show, with stunning solos and stage presence, although for me the two real stars are guest guitarist/vocalist John Wesley and full-time synth-star Richard Barbieri - the former offers brilliant guitar playing and a vocal range which challenges and compliments Steven, and Mr. Barbieri bring brilliant atmosphere AND confidence to the show, in one scene playing his keyboard with an empty water bottle!

The CD's and DVD are also fantastic, although not technically equal to the perfect bluray; the CD's offer the option of use on an iPod or in a car, which is a great compliment to the live show, and also contain the bonus track 'Prodigal'.

I really have 0 complaints for this entire package - unfortunately, the red and grey special edition books are long gone (unless you want to buy one on eBay for a horrendous price) so the Bluray/DVD or standalone DVD package is the current option, both of which still over the perfect live show.

Definitely not one you'd want to miss, and if my gushing fanboyism didn't make it obvious enough, this one is a definite 5* product in every department.

progkidjoel | 5/5 |


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