Porcupine Tree - Manchester Academy 1- 30.9.06

The greatest band in the world set about proving to the newcomers tonight that skinny ties and tight jeans are little but fluff to the music scene and manage to deliver a prog rock beast that overshadows that of Muse's apocalyptic set at the Carling Weekend.

To really understand Porcupine Tree you have to put them in context. Formed in the early 90s with a core of Stephen Wilson fleshed out to full band for recent recordings and the live shows, there's no doubting that the band were a direct influence on Radiohead, Muse and the current crop of prog influenced rock bands such as The Mars Volta.Wilson's production work for the likes of Opeth has opened up his work to a younger audience and also embraced the internet early on and its down to to the net and show taping that Porcupine Tree have managed to play a sold out Academy 1 show without any media coverage or album releases this year.

Recently signed to Slipknots label Roadrunner Records the band show no signs of becoming a careerist rock band and air much of their new material during the first part of tonight's show. Essentially is the extremities of Stephen Wilsons trademark sound with Metallica getting as much of a look in as the Floyd references. "Empathy" and "Hear My Sorrow", working titles at the moment, are the polar opposites and only Porcupine Tree could get away with playing their longest composition to date, clocking in at a mammoth 17 minutes long with every single minute damn near essential. If this is any indication of what the new album will sound like then expect Porcupine Tree to capture the heart of the nation and become the longest overnight success story ever.

After a short break the band return to deliver some of those old classics from albums such as "Dead Wing", "In Absentia" and those early album that were recently remastered much to the delight of the hard-core fans who's vinyl copies were wearing out. What makes Porcupine Tree so special is that while muso moments obviously creep in when you're average songs is 6 minutes long there's never the sense that the song drags on too long or that any section is unnecessary. Despite his refusal to embrace it fully as on his Blackfield sideproject, there's a strong sense of pop in Porcupine Tree's work where however over blown and epic a track gets the song always remains king.

The next 12 months will be interesting for Porcupine Tree as it will be interesting to see how Wilson reacts to mainstream acceptance that will ultimately be bestowed on him.

Alex McCann

Click here to leave your Porcupine Tree reviews / comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)