With Porcupine Tree taking some down time after touring The Incident – which climaxed at London’s Royal Albert Hall – Steven Wilson has recently been focusing on the new Blackfield Welcome To My DNA record as well as his upcoming solo album. We thought we’d head down to Shepherd’s Bush Empire to get our Prog fix.
Six things we learned when Blackfield played London
- Tonight’s crowd are very much the Steven Wilson Appreciation Society of London. Everywhere you look there are Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and even Opeth shirts. It’s great to see one of most talented British songwriters and producers to emerge over the past two decades getting such devoted yet well deserved recognition.
- The new material from Welcome To My DNA sits very well next to the older tracks, though carries a slightly different flavour – feeling more airy, laid back and symphonic. This would probably be down to it being almost entirely written by Aviv Geffen, as Steve Wilson has been focusing on his second solo album.
- Not many bands in this field boast two iconic frontmen sharing the stage, and it is very much this chemistry that makes Blackfield such an intriguing and captivating live act to watch. You can almost see into the creative nucleus behind their unique blend of English and Israeli culture, and witness how ideas are bounced around between the two.
- It’s not often you get to see a band pull off grandiose and almost orchestral sounding harmonies that match those on the studio recordings. At points there are four musicians on stage contributing to a wall of vocals that virtually disappear into the string parts played by keyboardist, Eran Mitelman. It’s that impressive.
- In contrast to Steve Wilson’s humble, barefooted and stripped down stage presence Aviv Geffen looks very much the rock star, wearing flash shoes and an unbuttoned designer shirt. Steve Wilson even points this out, praising Aviv for his impeccable sense of fashion. Well, we think it was praise – you can never tell with clever people.
- Despite not being one of the main faces of Blackfield, drummer Tomer Z comes close to stealing the show at many points throughout the set. He exudes a “serve the song” mentality as a musician: often sitting back and playing behind the beat, as well as delivering technical and metronomic precision when required.
- Of course with such a recognisable talent so heavily involved in the band, there are points that will undoubtedly sound like Porcupine Tree – though closer to the Stupid Dream era, than the newer and heavier Roadrunner releases. That said Blackfield are very much their own band, and offer enchantingly majestic passages of progressive finesse in accessible four-minute fragments. A band like this would sit perfectly on the Prog Stage at High Voltage Festival 2011, which still has two more bands to announce on that stage if last year is anything to go by. Watch this space?
Blackfield @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire setlist
Go to Hell
On the Plane
Rising of the Tide
The Hole in Me
Where Is My Love?
Dissolving with the Night
End of the World