Live Review: Steven Wilson @ Metro Theatre, Sydney – October 3, 2013

Words by: Ben Hosking –
Photo Credit: © Naki Kouyioumtzis
As we arrive at Sydney’s Metro Theatre to a line of punters that stretches down that little side street and around the corner, we realise this will be one of this year’s more special musical events. The range of fans waiting patiently for Steven Wilson’s gig are as mixed and varied as the artist’s back catalogue, with young and old, male and female, overtly metal and overtly not…

After a short wait, watching a slow-moving animation of Wilson’s new album ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)’, the band take to the stage to rapturous applause. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking it was country-mates One Direction taking to the stage and not the frontman of a proggy UK cult act like Porcupine Tree.

Considering his almost-deific standing in the guitar world, axeman Guthrie Govan seems to almost go out of his way to hide off to the far edges of the stage, perhaps not wanting to take anything away from Wilson’s show. Although it becomes clear just how many guitar nerds are in the audience each time Govan steps up for a solo spot, greeted by hoots and euphoric howls even though tonight, the shred legend’s role is much more textural and supportive than that of hired gun.

It isn’t until the third track that Wilson addresses the eager, and full, Metro audience, informing us that the show will comprise mostly songs from the new album. However, over the course of the two-plus hour set, Wilson and the band pull out plenty of gold from his solo back catalogue as well, like a rousing rendition of the excellent ‘Harmony Korine’ from Insurgentes and ‘Postcard’ from the ‘Grace for Drowning’ album. From just a few brief words, his dry British wit is immediately apparent, making his musical partnership and work with Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt all the more obvious.

While a little of the quietness from Wilson’s solo work is lost in the mix tonight, there is so much light and shade in his music that it’s truly a sonically dynamic gig. From the opening strains of ‘Luminol’, through standout tracks like ‘The Holy Drinker’ and ‘Drive Home’, to tracks that highlight Wilson’s fascination with serial killers like ‘Collecting Space’, ‘The Watchmaker’ and the truly epic ‘Raider II’ – it’s a musical roller coaster ride that has the entire crowd transfixed from beginning to end.

Artist: Steven Wilson @
Venue: Metro Theatre, Sydney
Date: October 3, 2013

October 2nd – Billboard, Melbourne
October 3rd – The Metro, Sydney
October 5th – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Details here…

Review by: Ben Hosking –