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London, Mean Fiddler 10 September 2004
Earlier on this year I cursed the fact that I had been unable to travel to Liverpool to see one of my favourite bands, Anathema, play an acoustic concert with a string quartet, so it was some small compensation that they were to make a special guest appearance to the debut gig of Blackfield, the project of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israeli musician Avi Geffen.
However, upon my arrival I was rather surprised to find that the acoustic Anathema line-up once again featured the string quartet. The set was not without a few problems sound wise, but with much of the band's recent material being quite mellow, the acoustic setting was perfect for tunes like 'Fragile Dreams' and 'Flying'. Certainly a performance that I'd like to see repeated.
After a 20 min break, we got around a half and hour's worth of Steven Wilson material. He began with 'Even Less' and followed it with 'A Smart Kid', both from Porcupine Tree's 'Stupid Dream' album and both featuring Ben Coleman on electric violin. The electric violin certainly put a fresh slant on these songs in a very positive way and nicely complemented Steven Wilson's acoustic guitar playing.
Steven then performed 3 songs more or less on his own, two of which he perfomed alone on the piano - something that he seemed quite nervous about doing.
He needn't have been nervous as both 'How is Your Life Today' and 'Moment I Lost' were excellent, particularly the former. After that he moved back to guitar to play 'Trains' from 'In Absentia' before he finished with a song written by Benny and Bjorn of Abba - entitled 'The Day Before You Came'. It was nice enough, but with Steven strumming at his acoustic, I half expected it to change into Fernando at several points.
Setlist: Even Less (with Ben Coleman) / A Smart Kid (with Ben Coleman) / How Is Your Life Today? (at piano) / Moment I Lost (at piano) / Trains (with Ben Coleman) / The Day Before You Came (Abba cover)
Another 10 mins later and the headline act came onstage. The band lineup was basically Avi Geffen and his backing band, but with Steven on guitar and vocals. Since their debut disk is barely 40 minutes I was wondering how they were going to fill their allotted hour, but they added one of Avi's hits, entitled 'Where Is My Love?' and played a further Porcupine Tree tune as an encore.
The band was excellent and the reproduction of the material from the album was perfect, though at times the volume was a tad too high to be comfortable.
I have to say that I love the album and after this show I think I love it even more. The title track, 'Pain' and 'Cloudy Now' (originally a hit for Avi, sung in Hebrew) really stood out. Steven promised that next time they'll have a few more songs to play and I certainly look forward to catching them on tour when they return.
Setlist: Blackfield / Open Mind / The Hole in Me / Glow / Pain / Lullaby / Summer / Where Is My Love? / Cloudy Now / Scars / Hello
Encore: Feel So Low
Review: Charlie Farrell