Steven Wilson | Photos by Joe Del Tufo |

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen and photographed Steven Wilson in his various incarnations (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-man, etc) more than any other artist in the last 17 years. His work has evolved and returned, usually staying within a darker palette of melodic to heavy progressive rock. There is really no artist doing what he is currently doing, creating album-length cohesive works in a style that looks forward as much as back.

Playing the Keswick in support of his most recent concept album Hand.Cannot.Erase, Wilson had his hands full. The album is about the dangers of modern disconnection as told through the true story of Joyce Carol Vincent – a seemingly normal young woman who died in her apartment and was not found for three years. It is a complex work and without band regulars Marco Minneman and Guthrie Govan (both out on tour with their band The Artistocrats), the challenge of performing it live was a cause for concern.

The concerns were unfounded, though – the musicianship was immediately astounding. New guitarist Dave Kilminster (who you will recognize as Roger Waters’ current guitarist), quickly added his signature to the music, a more Gilmour-like soaring lead that was complemented well by Wilson’s guitar work. The more melodic tracks from Erase – “Perfect Life” and “Routine” – quickly descended into the inevitable doom of “Home Invasion” and “Regret #9.” The latter was a particular highlight – complex, majestic and storming. It helped glue the previous songs together, weaving this first movement into something of a tapestry of Wilson’s work over the last 20+ years. From the roots of his Pink Floyd influence through the menacing death-metal of late-era Porcupine Tree, it is all in there, melding into one hour-long masterpiece.

And there was so much more in the 2+ hour set. From the classic Porcupine Tree track “Lazarus,” through the shoegazer-influended “Harmony Korine,” the face-plant rock of “Sleep Together” and the massive wall of music that is “Ancestral,” watching this band is like being tossed around a padded room for hours, but in a fun way. The synth and keyboard work of Adam Holtzman was taken to new height here, complementing and then stepping forward in a number of places, another cohesive element that is essential to the work. Nick Beggs, what can I say about this man on the bass, everything he touches has a sinister smile to it.

The show itself is visually stunning, reminding me of late-era Pink Floyd theatrics, with a massive full stage HD backdrop screen projecting keyed video (the wonderful visuals of Lasse Hoile’s) throughout the performance. It was a stunning show, and Wilson brings it to The Grand Opera House in Wilmington tonight; more information on the show can be found here.

First Regret
3 Years Older
Hand Cannot Erase
Perfect Life
Home Invasion
Regret #9
Lazarus (Porcupine Tree)
Harmony Korine
Happy Returns
Ascendant Here On…

Temporal (Bass Communion)
The Watchmaker
Sleep Together (Porcupine Tree)
The Raven That Refused to Sing