First, a big THANK YOU to all for reading my blog posts “My introduction to Porcupine Tree Part I and Part II” (if you havent read them, click here for Part I and here for Part II). A lot of people have read and commented on it (mostly via Facebook), and there were some people asking me for my personal story/opinion about Steven Wilson‘s solo music… So here it is!
Of course, Porcupine Tree started as a solo project by Steven Wilson, and later on in the early nineties a complete band was formed. Back in late 2008, Steven released his first solo album Insurgentes. An album I can really appreciate and love to play a lot. Porcupine Tree also released the album The Incident a year later than Insurgentes, so I thought that the solo album was just a one-day project, an experiment… How I was wrong!
When Steven Wilson announced that he was busy making a new solo album I became very curious! I couldn’t wait to hear some tracks of his solo album. Would it be something like Insurgentes? Would it be something completely different? And what about Porcupine Tree? Is this probably the end of Porcupine Tree?
When Steven finally posted some snippets of some of the tracks on YouTube I was… Fairly disappointed (ok, another ‘pitchfork’ moment… The people who read Part I & Part II know what I’m talking about)! I didn’t like what I heard in those short snippets, it didn’t ‘catch’ me. It was ‘ok’ music, but that was it. I was feeling like a child that didn’t get her lollipop in her favourite colour, if you know what I mean. When the album was finally released in late 2011 I actually ignored it. Normally I would buy the vinyl version of an album from an artist/band I adore, but those ‘terrible track snippets’ I heard were still haunting my brain…
A few weeks after the official release I was wandering through the Media Markt (a Dutch store specialized in consumer electronics), just to check out some electronic gadgets and stuff… And I thought to myself “Let’s check if they have some CDs for bargain prices” (Media Markt didn’t sell vinyl back then in 2011). While I was flipping through the CDs in the media section I found the booklet version of Grace For Drowning, for the quite reasonable price of thirteen euros. Well, that’s a good price for a two disc booklet CD, why not buying it anyway?
My boyfriend wasn’t convinced, just like me, but when I told him I bought the album he became curious. We listened to both discs in its entirety together… And were blown away! Wow! It sounded amazing, and the tracks are phenomenal! The track Raider II is a masterpiece, and Deform To Form A Star became one of my all time favourite songs. Boyfriend and I agreed that we had to get this album on vinyl and that we had to see the tour. So there we were a few weeks later, boyfriend and I, in the Boerderij Zoetermeer, as two excited young kids waiting for the band to perform on stage! We had no idea which band members would join Steven Wilson on stage that evening…
When the band finally arrived on stage my boyfriend whispered in my ear “Who’s that suited guy, with the sunglasses and blond wig with pigtails? It must be a wig, probably a disguise! He will probably take it off later in the show and ‘reveal’ himself and we all go ‘Aah, it’s that guy’, I think!”… But the guy didn’t took off his ‘wig’… And after a brilliant night, boyfriend and I were mostly impressed by the ‘wig guy’… Who was non other than the amazing Nick Beggs! When we found out who he was we could slap ourselves in the face and yell “Of course!”. Because we were so impressed by the first Grace For Drowning tour we went to see them live again half a year later in 013 Tilburg!
Steven Wilson released a live album named Catalogue/Preserve/Amass in early 2012. I bought the vinyl version for twelve euros (!!!) at a record store in Leiden, The Netherlands. The reason why it was so cheap was because it had no price sticker on it, and it was the only copy, so the cashier had to guess how much it would have cost.
Wow… I actually can’t believe that Grace For Drowning was released almost five years ago! And of course, in the meantime Steven Wilson released more solo albums and had some line-up changes in his (live) band. I haven’t seen the Hand.Cannot.Erase tour myself (yet), but I did watch the livestream of the show in Los Angeles, provided by Yahoo! Music, back in June 2015. I was really impressed by that performance, the band had really ‘grown’ to a spectacular live phenomenal… But who was that nice looking guy behind the drum kit? Is Steven Wilson selecting his band members on ‘cuteness’ now? … Craig Blundell? The name does ring a bell… Oh, yeah, Frost*! Wow, that guy can drum, he’s doing great!
Not many days later I read a post of Nick Beggs on Facebook, and that post made me angry and disappointed at the same time. It seems that people (who claim themselves as ‘fans’) were bashing on Craig, because he wasn’t Marco Minnemann, and they also automatically presumed that Craig would ‘bungle’ all the drums during the live performance. Nick was really sticking up for Craig, which was really sweet! Craig is a great drummer who can’t be compared to Marco, and I even prefer his drumming style over Marco‘s (while I’ve seen Marco a couple of times live, and even interviewed him… Point your pitchforks at he again!).
I hope I will see Steven Wilson and band live again soon, but for now it’s only wishful thinking (and concert tickets are quite expensive, especially when you don’t have a proper income). It would be great to interview all the current members someday as well!
Hey, I totally forgot to mention The Raven That Refused To Sing! I think I will do that in one of my future posts, or this post will become very long, haha! Please keep an eye on the page for more stories to come!
A big hug from your roving reporter, and thank you for reading!
Iris, aka Ier!
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Me with the Grace For Drowning vinyl album and CD:
The concert tickets of both Grace For Drowning tours: