Steven Wilson & the Return of the Conceptual Concert – Ghosts of the Road

I actually first discovered Porcupine Tree in one of my favorite local record shops, Manifest Disk & Tape (which is now an F.Y.E..ugh) back home in Columbia, SC probably in the later 90’s. I found a copy of On the Sunday of Life in the used section and it was imported from England (read: more expensive). I was intrigued by the cover, which displays a 3/4 profile of a man with slick back hair flying down into an English suburb? That was good enough reason for me to buy it. I had just gotten into Marillion, so when I saw that this band was from England (or at least the CD was) and that it had a similar Prog look, I thought I would give it a shot.

Image-1

I didn’t like it all that much (read: I didn’t really understand it at the time. When Jupiter Island came on, I didn’t know what I was listening to). It sat on my cd shelf and moved around with me from South Carolina to NYC.  For the next few years, I started to hear a little buzz about Porcupine Tree but I had really not gotten into that first record, so I paid little attention.

Until 2005. I read somewhere that the new Porcupine Tree album was meant to be the soundtrack for a screenplay that Steven Wilson had written. That was enough to get me to check them out again. But I had already been hearing Stevens name a lot as he had produced my favorite record from Opeth, 2002’s groundbreaking Blackwater Park. Plus he was involved in Damnation and Deliverance from Opeth. So I took a chance on the then-new album, Deadwing. From the moment it started, I realized I had been missing out on something.

From that point on, I was a massive Porcupine Tree fan, buying all of their albums on CD & Vinyl (I still don’t love On the Sunday of Life… but I think I just don’t get it. It has the 60s psychedelic prog thing going, which was never my cup of tea… sorry England).

When Steven Wilson released his solo album Insurgentes, I found it to be one of the most compelling records of that year. I played it over and over. It still stands as one of my favorite SW solo records.

So fast forward to 2015. Somehow, we got permission to hang out with Steven Wilson and Co. to make another episode of Ghosts of the Road. This time we were a 3 men crew as we were in a bigger venue and I wanted to make sure we got all the nice shots. It was Kai and myself, plus we brought along our friend, Bernie, who you will recall was at the launch of FreqsTV. Bernie handled a number of timelapses, including one which he made using his motorized dolly and a string attached to an egg timer. Brilliant!

In the end, it was a true pleasure to get to meet the producer behind one of my favorite records of all time (Blackwater Park) and someone who legitimately influenced my own music and film work with his music over the years.

FreqsFact: Most FreqsTV shoots take place on one day. Typically a concert day. Steven was doing a record signing session the day before the show, so I had a chance to meet him a day before in a much more relaxed environment than on the day of the shoot. Plus, it gave us a new scene for Ghosts of the Road that we have not had before, a record signing session!

FreqsFact#2: SW’s phenomenal keyboardist, Adam Holzman, is a New Yorker and it turns out that he is a huge fan of Law & Order, a crime procedural show that is a New York institution.  As it so happens, I worked many years as a Grip on the original L&O as well as the SVU edition. In fact, on the shows 20th and last season, I was one of the last grips to leave the job and even turned in the final timecards for my department. It felt like the end of an era. The production of SVU would then move into our sound stages in Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, and I would be one of several crew members to stay onboard and help with the changeover. But that’s a story for another time… Anyway, Adam was pretty excited to hear that I had worked on L&O. We had met the first day at the record signing. I remembered I still had my 20th season crew badge, which I brought along to the concert the next day and gave it to him as a souvenir.

 

 

Randy M. Salo

View all posts

Add comment

What do you think, Freqs?