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PORCUPINE TREE | KATATONIA - Helsinki Ice Hall 21.10.2009

Do you believe in incidents?

Gallery links: Porcupine Tree | Katatonia

Loud white nights summer is long gone and autumn has climbed up its throne in Helsinki. Along with the morning frost and the beautiful Ruska season of multi– coloured leaves it also brought two bands to Helsinki Ice Hall: the bands that truly know how to play the tunes of autumn – Katatonia and Porcupine Tree.

The Swedes from Katatonia are about to release a new album in November with quite a trendy type of a name – ‘Night Is The New Day’ . It has been 3 years since their previous record ‘The Cold White Distance’, so the new material is very much awaited by the fans. The album teasers available on the mini– website dedicated to it already sound quite promising.

Seeing Katatonia live doesn‘ t make much difference than listening to them on the record. The music is undoubtedly terrific, but their live performances do not bring the right energy and atmosphere. They started their set with a short ‘Hello, Helsinki!’ greeting and went on with the music. ‘July’ was one of the first songs played, yet even July relishes of autumn when it comes to Katatonia. It feels like this metallic melancholy of their music fills every cell of your body and freezes you. As the show went on, the band played songs from different parts of their discography, such as ‘Criminals’, ‘Teargas’, ‘I Am Nothing’. Unfortunately they didn‘t play any of the material from the new album due to the broken drum pedal. Katatonia had to cut their set to half an hour and finished it with the song ‘Murder’ from CD2 of the ‘Brave Yester Days’ album. Hopefully Helsinki will still get to hear the new record live some day. At least that‘ s what the band promised.

A while after Katatonia left the stage, it was time for Porcupine Tree to take over it. They had a short prologue to their show about restrictions concerning the usage of recording devices, cell phones included, and how much the band would appreciate it if the audience didn‘ t use any of those. This reminded me of sitting in the cinema, where you are kindly asked to turn off your phones. Have to give credit to the audience, after this I saw only 2 – 3 phone/camera screens shining in the dark, but security quickly took care of this.

Porcupine Tree also made their fans happy with a new album release in September, called ‘The Incident’. The first 55 minutes of the show consisted only of the songs from this record and it was the best presentation of the new material one could ever see. The light effects, the images on the screen in the background, everything gave a cotton candy flavour to the magically intense atmosphere – you feel it all around you, but it is intangible.

However, what left the most indescribable impression was neither the music nor the effects, but Steven Wilson – the band‘s vocalist. He was so inconceivably radiant, brighter than all the lights on the stage, that not just the rest of the band, but the whole world seemed black and white next to him. His immense charisma and stage presence leaves you completely struck in an unspeakable admiration. During the show he changed at least three guitars and also played a small piano, while casting the magic upon the audience.

The band finished ‘The Incident’ part of the show with my personal favourite song from the album called ‘I Drive The Hearse’, where Steven forgot the lyrics at the beginning and had to start the song again, laughing at it. After Porcupine Tree have proved to everyone that their new album is capable of taking you beyond the borders of your imagination, they did a 10 minutes break with the countdown on the background screen. They were back with ‘The Start Of Something Beautiful’ (Deadwing album) and something beautiful continued.

The band went on with the songs from their previous releases, such as ‘Russia on Ice’ (Lightbulb Sun), ‘Anesthetize’ (Pt.II) (Fear Of The Black Planet), ‘Normal’, etc. The packed Ice Hall was unable to resist this wave of sound, lights and images, it could only give in to the charm. Wilson learned the Finnish ’thank you‘ – ‘kiitos’, and was thanking the audience after each song. Porcupine Tree finished the encore with a song called ‘Trains’ from the ‘In Absentia’ album.

Once you climb the ‘porcupine tree’, the world appears in different colours and there is no way down anymore. The magic was over, yet the autumn goes on, absolutely not incidentally filled with beautiful tunes.

Pictures: Jana Blomqvist. | Report: Tanja C.

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