Gavin Harrison - Porcupine Tree

from the DVD "Arriving Somewhere"

The Tree's 1st DVD is worth every penny, October 24, 2006
By R. Gorham

THE BAND: Steven Wilson (guitar, vocals), Richard Barbieri (keyboards, synthesizer), Colin Edwin (bass), Gavin Harrison (drums & percussion), and touring guitarist John Wesley.

THE DVD: (2006) 2 discs. Disc-1 contains the 105 minute club-sized venue recorded live at Chicago's Park West on October 11-12, 2005... 15 complete songs. Disc-2 contains a photo gallery (9 minutes of picture after picture with background music - color, as well as black & white photos along the "Deadwing" tour... indoor/outdoor performances, festivals, behind the scenes, rehearsals, etc.); two bonus songs performed live ("Radioactive Toy" and "Futile" from 'Rockpalast' recorded in Budapest); Harrison's 4 minute cymbal song; "Lazarus" promo video; and three live projections from "Halo", "The Start Of Something Beautiful" and "Mother & Child Divided". The sound is crisp (and the 5.1 DTS is all that you can imagine). The DVD container itself is a 4-fold digipak. Sadly, no booklet containing any written words/lyrics/musicians or additional pictures comes with the DVD.

COMMENTS: This DVD of The Tree in concert is a must have for fans. The band can do no wrong. I will continue to buy anything PT's mastermind Steven Wilson touches. THE GOOD: Filmed in color, moving to black & white at times, and going from sharply focused to grainy with specks (don't know what the artistic expression for this technique is called). Nine cameramen capture the action on stage while 3 projection screens blanket the curtain behind the band. The frame rate at which the camera shots change is fine - not too fast (as some music DVD's are). I haven't been to The Park West, but from the DVD it looks like it's an old high school auditorium. The show opens with "Open Car" followed by "Blackest Eyes" - two great rockers to really get the crowd into it. They then slow it down with perhaps their prettiest melody "Lazarus". Other highlights include "Hatesong" (with Edwin's cool bass intro, Harrison's intricate drumming, and a shredding guitar solo from Wilson); the 12 minute "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" (featuring a great jam), and "Buying New Soul" (with Barbieri's atmospheric synth intro and Wilson's acoustic guitar... mellow bliss); their concert staple "Even Less", the unreleased instrumental "Mother And Child Divided" (in the same vein as Rush's "YYZ" with some neat tricks by Wilson on the guitar), the unreleased "So Called Friend" (a B-Side from the 'Deadwing' sessions), and the closer "Trains". Not that any songs are 'bad' here... but rather these songs simply stand out. Outside of an occasional "Thank you" or song introduction, very few words are spoken in between tracks... and the one comical thing that happens just before "Trains" is when Wilson asks the audience what song they want to hear. You hear one voice from the crowd yell "Freebird" and Wilson counters with "That's tomorrow night, the full blown 17 minute version." Two-thirds the way through "Trains", Wilson breaks a string on his acoustic guitar... and his graceful dialogue with the audience (without ruining it for you) is what you'd probably expect out of him. THE NOT SO GOOD: I could say nothing here and just relish the whole DVD, but I'll be honest instead. The following two things are extremely minor - 1. As much as I love "Deadwing" and "In Absentia", I wish there were a few more songs from other albums ("Signify", "Metanoia", "Up The Downstair", "The Sky Moves Sideways" all had zero representation here... as well as only one track from one of my favorite Tree discs "Lightbulb Sun"). 2. The backing vocals by touring guitarist John Wesley were simply too loud at times. Several songs ("Buying New Soul", "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here", "Heart Attack In A Layby" and "The Sound Of Muzak" in particular) are ruined in spots by Wesley's falsetto vocals. If his microphone was turned down a notch or he simply moved a foot back from the mic... I'm sure the problem would have been resolved. As it comes out on the DVD though, his high-pitched backing vocals overpower Wilson's singing in spots. Again - very minor... and neither ruin the experience here. Porcupine Tree is an awesome band - Wilson is a genius at his work... plays a great guitar, sings well, has a Kurt Cobain presence on stage (posture and hair) and performs utter magic in the studio. Harrison is an outstanding drummer with fast hands and even quicker feet - and I've coolly put him in the ranks with my other drummer favorites Neil Peart (Rush) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). Barbieri's synthesizer and keyboards give the songs the perfect backdrop and splash of texture. Edwin is perfect on the bass guitar - and dare I say he didn't move more than 3 feet during the entire show. Porcupine Tree deserves more recognition than they're currently getting... hopefully soon. If The Tree is in town - go see them live. Pick up this DVD and hopefully you'll see what I mean. Great show (5 stars).