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Porcupine TreeRudolf-Weber-Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
6th November 2022
Porcupine Tree - “Closure / Continuation.” Tour 2022

You can safely call this a sensation: after twelve years, the new album ‘Closure / Continuation’ by PORCUPINE TREE was released. The first track was already available on all major streaming platforms before. ‘Harridan’ makes it easy to re-enter the world and the sound of the British. The eight-minute trip sums up a lot that defines PORCUPINE TREE and their music that transcends all borders - but of course not everything. Because how should the enormous wealth of ideas of guitarist and singer Steven Wilson, keyboardist Richard Barbieri and drummer Gavin Harrison be fully developed in just one piece?

Founded in 1987 as a solo side project by Wilson, the band has been one of the most influential and creative projects since the early 90s. Album for album - there have been ten in total so far - they explored a tremendous world of sound. Defined somewhat helplessly as Prog Rock, the work cannot be squeezed into a genre name. PORCUPINE TREE has experimented with Psychedelic Rock as well as with electronic soundscapes, with experimental Pop as well as with Classical or Metal influences. On their later records they combined all of this effortlessly and homogeneously and created a musical universe around them.

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Anyone who thinks that ‘Closure / Continuation’ is a new beginning or a reunion is mistaken. The guys have been working on the record since 2010. There was always a steadily growing file on the computer with the name PT2012 (later renamed PT 2015 and PT2018 etc.). Every now and then it was forgotten - after all, Wilson already has enough to do as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, lyricist, producer, remixer, restorer and label owner. Then again it gnawed at the musicians involved and asked them to carry on and see where the whole thing was going. Because it turned out early on:

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What was created there was not comparable with the other work of the individual members. This material was pure, unmistakable, undeniable and unadulterated PORCUPINE TREE - the combined musical DNA of the people who are behind this sound and this art. That can already be heard in ‘Harridan’, and how much more so in the pieces that we can already look forward to. Of course, PORCUPINE TREE come on tour with the new material, because on stage the music begins to bloom, to proliferate and to shine in new colours. In the fall, the British are going on an extensive trip to Europe and were coming to Germany for three concerts, one of them took place in Oberhausen.

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Music & Performance
Last time I have seen PORCUPINE TREE was 2010 at RuhrCongress in Bochum, a much smaller hall. Before the concert I was wondering if the band could fill a 13,000-capacity arena. Well, not totally, but the infield and lower ranks were very well filled, only the upper ranks looked a bit empty. At the end, a very good crowd promising a good concert which started sharp on 20:00 and as we know a Mr. Wilson walking on stage with bare feet. After the first song ‘Blackest Eyes’ he greeted the audience and excused for the delay finally playing in Germany again after 12 years of absence. With a new album in their luggage, they had several new songs to present and they did especially in the first part of the show, mixed with a lot of old classics. The show consisted of two parts with a 20 minutes break and an overall playing tome of about three hours, as Wilson informed the audience.

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The stage in Oberhausen was quite big with a LED screen in the back where for several songs artsy videos were shown. For other songs, the visual elements were delivered by smoke and lots of lights mainly shining bright in Wilson himself whereas the other musicians were illuminates with dim lights very often, colourful lights were shining on the audience. Just a pity that exactly the two songs for the photographers at the beginning of the second set were only showing a sparsely illuminated stage. All in all, the big stage had deserved a bigger production, but at the end it is always a matter of finances and of course the music of PORCUPINE TREE speaks for itself. A first fan favourite was played with the seven-minute version of ‘Even Less’. During the show, Wilson again and again found his way to the other musicians who mainly sticked on their places, among them new bass player Nate Navarro and new guitarist / vocalist Randy McStine. Drummer Gavin Harrison’s playing is perfect proving he is one of the premier drummers in Rock. Barbieri’s sonic treatments were absolutely fantastic.

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Before the start of ‘Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled’ Wilson announced the soon following break and said that there obviously were three kinds of fans in the audience, judging on the shirts they wore… and anyone of them would get one’s money’s worth, no matter if Prog, Metal or the more Art-Pop audience. This one was more a light Pop sing, as he announced it. The song following was written 21 years ago and if very relevant again today. Towards the end, Wilson was kneeling on stage, reaching out to the fans and let them song alone. ‘Chimera’s Wreck’ was the last song before the break and started quite calm and got more and more intense and pushing in the course of the track, accompanied by a mind-expanding computer-generated video. Along to the Alice Coltrane song ‘Turiya’ coming from tape, the band waved and started the break where people could get some air, smoke of have a drink. Right after 20 minutes, ‘Fear of a Blank Planet / Sentimental’ intro started the second half of the evening.

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I said earlier that any kind of fan would be happy during the set and the second half was more something for the Metal lovers, dominated by ‘Fear of a blank Planet’, a masterpiece offering something for anyone with guitar solo, a crunchy middle section to the hypnotic ending and above all Harrison’s inspired drumming. ‘Buying new Soul’ is a rather rare track following afterwards. ‘Walk the Plank’ shows Barbieri in best form along with McStine’s wild guitar work and perfect backing vocals. ‘Anesthetize’ and ‘Sleep Together’ end the second part of the show, just to make room for the encore. ‘Collapse the Light Into Earth’ as first encore song is performed as a duet of Wilson with Barbieri. ‘Halo’ from the ‘Deadwing’ album is a nice surprise and the band unsurprisingly closes the set with ‘Trains’. PORCUPINE TREE proved that night that they are still a band to count on, that they are cult und very relevant. Let’s see what the future brings and if we have to wait another 12 years for the band to return to Germany.

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01. Even Less / Stupid Dream intro
02. Blackest Eyes
03. Harridan
04. Of the New Day (restarted)
05. Rats Return
06. Even Less (7 minute version)
07. Drown With Me
08. Dignity
09. The Sound of Muzak
10. Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled
11. Chimera’s Wreck
12. Turiya (Alice Coltrane song)
---20 min break---
13. Fear of a Blank Planet / Sentimental intro
14. Fear of a Blank Planet (modified lyric: “He’s in a band / They sound like Japan”)
15. Buying New Soul (no Richard outro)
16. Walk the Plank
17. Sentimental
18. Herd Culling (Nate and Randy are jokingly introduced as being from the United Kingdom)
19. Anesthetize
20. Sleep Together
21. Collapse the Light Into Earth (Steven and Richard only; with extended intro in 4/4)
22. Halo
23. Trains

Music: 10
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 8
Total: 9 / 10

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All pictures by Dani Vorndran ( /

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