Review and photos by Mike "Suicide" Santoro
Buffalo, NY - Steven Wilson isn't exactly a house hold name, he isn't a Grammy winner (although twice nominated) and he has never had a top ten hit…yet to listen to his music you would wonder why. Born and raised in the UK , Wilson has been playing music since he was a young boy. He was heavily influenced by his parents record catalog that included Pink Floyd, Donna Summers and others. He is most notable as the singer/ songwriter of the band Porcupine Tree which has become increasingly popular even while they currently are on hiatus and have no plans for a follow up album. If music is math then Prog-Rock is calculus. Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, and Tool are all in that genre in some shape or form. Progressive Rock with its roots in Psychedelic Rock would be hard math if it were math at all. The complexity of sounds, command of instrument, quality of songwriting and the dismissal of rocks conventional rules are qualities these bands share and with that help define a genre. Steven Wilson belongs among those ranks, he is a musician and he enjoys his job…and he is exceptional at it. Dismissing the typical 3 to 4 minute song for longer symphonic type signatures and mid song tuning changes, Steven Wilson and his bandmates create incredible music.
On April 21st The Steven Wilson Band made a stop at the popular town Ballroom in Buffalo NY. and played to a nearly sold out crowd. I have been to plenty of shows spanning many different genres over the past 25 years or so and I have witnessed many types of crowds. The kind of folks who attend a show like Steven Wilson and others of his ilk are true music heads. They are there for the music, no gimmick is needed nor wanted for that matter, so it's a comfortable crowd to be a part of. Wilson is quite proficient at surrounding himself with talent and Guthrie Govan the lead guitarist, is no exception. This guy plays with such passion, its hard not to stand and stare at him with your mouth open attracting flies. Nick Beggs is an incredible bassist (who reminds me of Buffalo native Billy Sheenan) and has had quite a storied career. He is a founding member of Kajagoogoo and has worked with a laundry list of notable musicians. He is currently a staff writer for Bass Guitar magazine. This guy is hands down one of the best bassist I have ever watched live. Theo Travis is a jazz saxophonist and flautist who adds such an understated yet mystical element to the music. The keyboardist is Adam Holzman is the son of Electra records founder Jac Holzman and Miles Davis' former music director. This guy makes playing the keyboards an art form. He was raised around music and its in his blood, this was evident throughout the night. Rounding out the band is drummer Marco Minnemann who has his sticks moving non stop as a session drummer, multi instrumentalist and author. This band really is a list of 'who's who' in popular music. The list of songs they played hardly matters compared to the musical journey they led the crowd on. There were moments reminiscent of Pink Floyd and heavier moments that reminded me of Tool. I only draw these comparisons to help those who have not heard this band understand the type of sound, as they are very distinct and original. I didn't know what to expect when I walked into the show even after hearing the studio work. Steven Wilson has three solo albums, the latest being The Raven Who Refused to Sing and other stories. His music spans a range of emotions and topics but centers around songs that provoke a familiar melancholy feeling. I could spend all night spewing adjectives to describe the beauty of this band, the live performance and how it made me feel but I suggest you get off your ass and buy the albums and if you are lucky enough, go see them live.
For more on Steve Wilson, please visit www.stevenwilsonhq.com
Special thank you to Kim Estlund for press credentials.