2015 - Review Archives of live shows in Montreal and around the globe

July 1st, 2015
Steven Wilson week
A review by Robert Dansereau, June 27 to 29, 2015:
One of the most highly anticipated musical events this year is certainly Steven Wilson's series of shows in Quebec for his latest album,
Hand... Cannot... Erase... I can only describe the last few days as my "Steven Wilson week" : A last-minute invitation to attend the Steven Wilson Press conference, as part of the Montreal Jazz Festival, followed by one show in Montreal and one show in Quebec City.

On Saturday afternoon, June 27, I was invited to attend the Montreal Jazz Fest press conference with Steven Wilson, hosted by interviewer Marie Hélène Poitras. A 45-minute event organized by Simon Fauteux, and a fascinating insight into Steven's musical journey. You can see the conference in its entirety on Youtube.

Asked if there will ever be another Porcupine Tree album, Steven responds: "It will never be my prime focus ever again, I could see a situation where we might make another record together, but I think realistically, that it would now be a side project, my solo project is now established as my primary focus."

On his involvement in various projects and collaborations like No Man and Blackfield: "For me it's simply a reflection of all the music I listen to and all the music that I love, I've always been curious [...] People say to me you're kind of a freak, you're always doing these different things and you seem to work every day, and I genuinely don't understand why there aren't more people like me that seem to be interested in working across all genres of music. I'm happy to work on ambient music and noise music, pure pop and jazz, progressive rock and death metal... for me it's just good and interesting music! In a way, I see myself as the normal one and everyone else is strange; staying in only one genre your whole career is odd to me."

On his love of music: "I voraciously devour music, I discover music through vinyls and CDs, I still buy ten albums every week, always discovering things. The thing about the history of music is that when you think you have heard everything, something else will come along and surprise you that you did not know about. I think also that your musical taste changes as you get older so things that didn't make sense to you when you were a teenager suddenly click and I find that happening a lot as I get older. I'm always amazed by how much fantastic music is available and still there to be discovered even at my age. I'm still very curious and passionate about discovering music I'm not familiar with."

On the genre/label of progressive music: "I don't believe there is any such thing as progressive music anymore, [...] I don't think it's possible to be truly progressive and do something that no one has heard before, I'd love to be proven wrong but I listen to a lot of music and probably since the mid-nineties was the last time I honestly was hearing things that I've never heard before. Most of the music, much of which I still love, that I've heard over the last twenty years is not progressive, it's using an established musical vocabulary, and there's nothing wrong with that, I still believe you can invest music with a feeling of freshness by having a fresh perspective on the same kind of things people have done before and that's really what i'm doing and hey, that what most people are doing! You can't hear any music now without hearing something that's been done before, a precedent..."

One of the questions I asked him is if there was some leftover material from the Hand... Cannot... Erase... sessions, and if there would be a potential EP of complementary material like he often does (like Drive Home - 2014) and his answer was a definite yes, there is some material and there will most probably be an accompanying mini-album of outtakes, he's not sure when.

The other question I asked was if Alan Parson's engineering collaboration on The Raven that Refused to Sing might have influenced some of his material with elements of Tales of Mystery and Imagination: "I do love that album [Tales of Mystery...] but it was coincidental in the sense that Raven was written long before Alan Parsons was attached to the project, but there is obviously a strong common theme, I did listen a lot to that album when I was young, so probably it was a subconscious thing, it's a great record."

After the conference, Steven briefly saluted the crowd and chatted with the fans. I could not resist asking Simon to snap a pic of me with one of my musical idols! Now am on cloud nine and I can rest in peace!

Hand... Cannot... Erase... is loosely based on the life of Joyce Carol Vincent, whose sad story was recounted in the documentary Dreams of a Life in 2011. Vincent died in London in 2003 after severing ties with family, friends and the world at large. It wasn’t until two years later that the 38-year-old’s body was discovered in her flat. Wilson saw that documentary and it inspired him to write a whole album about her, recounting the arc of her life from beginning to end. As Steven recounted: "it's about a woman growing up, who goes to live in the city, very isolated, and she disappears one day and no one notices. There's more to it than that. Now, what's really interesting about this story is that your initial reaction when you hear a story like that is, 'Ah, little old bag lady that no one notices, no one cares about. But Vincent wasn't like that. She was young, she was popular, she was attractive, she had many friends, she had family, but for whatever reason, nobody missed her for almost three years."

Saturday evening... The concert at the Metropolis de Montreal began around 8:35 PM, and after the introduction video featuring London high-rise buildings and apartments, the musicians slowly made their way onstage, presenting the first half of the Hand... Cannot... Erase... album, with First Regret, 3 Years Older, Hand... Cannot... Erase... and Perfect Life.

Accompanying Steven on this North-American tour, Nick Beggs on bass, stick and vocals, Craig Blundell on drums, Dave Kilminster on guitar and Adam Holzman on keyboards, definitely an exceptional gathering of musicians, the European tour features Guthrie Govan on guitars and Marco Minnemann on drums, both of which were unavailable because of previous engagements with the Aristocrats in Europe.

Never in the years since his Porcupine Tree tours and his solo work was Steven Wilson so volubile on stage, bantering with much humour and communicating more than ever with his fans, at one point, Steven mentions "miserable music makes me happy and that happy music makes me miserable", a perfect segway for him to present what his producer describes as the most miserable song he ever wrote, Routine, accompanied by a beautiful animated, heart-wrenching video like no one but Steven can imagine. Then on to the fantastic Home invasion / Regret #9, an extensive, intense roller-coaster ride of hard rock, beautiful melodies and dark images.

The group followed-up with the first Porcupine Tree song of the evening, the melodic Lazarus. Between two songs, Steven introduced with much enthusiasm his wonderful new Steven Wilson Babicz acoustic signature guitar, suggesting humorously that if you're looking for a great guitar, that's what you want to get because it's beautiful, it sounds great and the best thing... it's black!

And then on to what I can definitely describe as one of the highlights of the show, as all the members of the band were snapping their fingers in unison, I recognized the first notes of Index, a thoroughly blistering alternate version that left me breathless. Then on to the lovely hommage to shoegazing and edgy film directors with the song Harmony Korine. Throughout the show, I am always impressed with the stunning visual accompaniements, many if not all from the dark and brooding imagination of Lasse Hoile. And then Steven concluded the Hand... Cannot... Erase... part of his show with Ancestral, Happy Returns and Ascendant.

After a few seconds in total darnkess as fans are cheering and screaming their lungs out, the lights come back with the familiar translucent screen in front of the stage they used in previous tours, for the next two songs. After a dramatic and macabre introduction video with clocks and old men with gloomy stares, we are treated to a beautiful, melodic and dark interpretation of The Watchmaker, immediately followed by another Porcupine Tree track, Sleep Together, which ranks very high on the terminally sinister scale.

For the Encore, Steven shared the latest FIFA soccer scores, mentioning that England beat Canada, and judging by the modest response, discovered that Montreal is more of a hockey town than a soccer town. He then presented what he described as a jazzy but with a heavy metal twist version of Sectarian, a thoroughly delicious version with an amazingly disturbing video background, and for the grand finale, the beautiful and emotionally heavy The Raven that Refused to Sing.

In his press conference, Steven mentioned that he would have at times 20 different reviews of one show and that not one would be the same, that those reviews are not fact, but simple opinions. I agree. So here's my opinion: Steven Wilson is by far one of the most imaginative, dynamic and energetic performer that I have seen and his shows are always absolutely amazing, from the first note to the last. Yes I admit that I have been a long-time fan, but his shows NEVER disappoint, and he always takes tremendous care in offering well-crafted shows and top-notch performances to his fans.

A million thanks to Simon Fauteux for giving me the unique opportunity to participate in this fascinating press conference before the show, it was certainly the highlight of my week, if not my year!

In Quebec City, the Monday, June 29 show at the Impérial Bell was in front of a highly energetic crowd, and Steven & Co. gave yet another stunning performance. The sound was impeccable but quite loud, making my earplugs a necessity to avoid tinnitus. Right in the middle of the performance, Steven Wilson had a small technical issue as one of his bass strings broke at the beginning of Home Invasion, which gave way to some very funny banter between Nick and Steven while the tech crew was replacing the broken string. the show itself was almost a carbon copy of the Saturday show in Montreal, except that they replaced Sectarian with No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun, from Insurgentes. I want to thank Jérôme Dechêne and Jean-Louis Croteau for the kind invitation to this great evening of music in La Vieille Capitale.

Quite an extraordinary series of shows on this North-American tour, with unanimous praise from critics and reviewers. I tip my hat to Mr. Wilson and his merry men for his consistently exceptional shows, which mix entertainment, intensity, musical virtuosity with captivating background videos and simple yet elegant and visually efficient lighting. That, my friends, is what live music is all about.

March 21, 2015
So - Projet Gabriel in Brossard
By Robert Dansereau - 21/03/2015
So - Projet Gabriel, the new tribute band to Peter Gabriel played yesterday at Club Dix30 in Brossard. What a fantastic show!

A show that combined the emotion, energy and virtuosity of the six musicians, you would never believe it was their first live performance as a band because they have captivated the audience from the first note of Come Talk to Me. An absolutely perfect playlist including big Gabriel hits in addition to the more daring and "proggy" tunes.

And what can I say about this splendid band... Charles Bellerose on bass and Chapman Stick succesfully met the challenge of honoring the work of Tony Levin, François Corriveau drums set the pace to the exceptional evening, Daniel Marsolais guitar was brilliant, Guy Charbonneau on keyboards, programming and scenery offered us all those mystical sounds of the music of Gabriel, and I tip my hat to the two amazing vocalists of the group, Marc Léveillé and Marie-Claude Marchand, who were simply superb, earning several ovations during the evening with their emotional, enthusiastic and exciting performance.

Among the great songs on their playlist, they performed Shock the Monkey, Mercy street, Games Without Frontier, Here comes the Flood, Don't Give Up, San Jacinto, No Self Control, Solsbury Hill, Digging in the Dirt, Steam, Red Rain, and to end the evening, Sledgehammer and Biko for the encore.

They will be back on June 20th at Club Dix30, your chance to see a first class show!


March 14, 2015
Alan Parsons Live Project in Montreal
By Robert Dansereau - 13/03/2015 - Photo: Manoli Papadakis
Legendary composer, performer and producer Alan Parsons was playing on March 10 at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the Place des Arts in front of over 1600 fans and offered an unforgettable show! A brilliant orchestra of 8 splendid musicians and a setlist that was sure to please each and every fan.

The band began with a bang with their medley Luciferama, followed by Damned If I Do, Don't Answer Me and Breakdown/Raven and the eternal hit I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You. After such an energetic start, he played a few ballads including Time and Old And Wise to conclude the first part of the evening with the entire Turn Of A Friendly Card suite! A very energetic first set filled with their proggiest hits.

After a 20-minute break, the band came back onstage with some of their poppier, popular tracks, starting with a breathtaking interpretation of La Sagrada Familia, followed with the lovely Limelight. Then on to an emotional moment when Alan dedicated the song In The Real World from 1985's
Stereotomy to his friend, vocalist Chris Rainbow who passed away just a few weeks ago. Alan followed with brand new song entitled, Do You Live At All? and on to the excellent pop hit Prime Time from Ammonia Avenue. For the grand finale, an exuberant Sirius/Eye in The Sky that had everyone dancing in their seats.

For the encore, Alan blew the roof off with a blistering interpretation of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether and Games People Play, ending with a long, deserved standing ovation! What a magnificent show!

It was wonderful to see almost all of the musicians take their turn on lead vocals throughout the evening, with Alan singing mostly on Prime Time, Eye in The Sky and Nothing Left To Lose from his
Turn Of A Friendly Card suite. To say this show was enjoyable is an understatement, because every note from the first to the last was thoroughly delightful.

Alan was accompanied by seven impeccable musicians, including P.J. Ollson on vocals, Alastair Greene on guitars and vocals, Danny Thompson on drums, Guy Erez on bass and vocals, Manny Focarazzo on keyboards, Todd Cooper on saxophone and vocals and Dan Tracey on guitars and vocals! Each and every musician had their opportunity to shine during the show and each one did it admirably well.

After the evening, I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Parsons, accompanied by his lovely wife Lisa. Friendly and patient, he took time to chat at length with all his fans, and signed a considerable amount of albums, posters and gladly had his picture taken with everyone! A great evening filled with precious musical memories! Thanks Alan for the amazing show and thanks to Jean-Louis and Jérome of JLJ Musik for bringing an artist of that caliber to Montreal and Quebec City


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