I have never done drugs.. dont think I never need to, cuz I know you can never feel as intoxicated and surreal as this.. when you experience Porcupine Tree live, it has got to be the most amazing feeling ever. On 21st Decemeber 2009 they had their first gig in India, and I couldnt have missed it for the world. It was one of the longest waits on the lush green campus of IIT, Powai.. a lot of chaos, random rumours, separate queues for girls and boys, dumping our bags and cameras in the cloak room, silence.. standing at the highest point of the gallery, waiting.. Parikrama has just finished their opening act.. still waiting.. a dull throbbing ache in the head, pulse beats and breathing being the only sounds you can hear.. suddenly a movement from the shadows, and you know its them! The crowd goes berserk, while the guards try to push the crowd back for security reasons.. and yes, out they come. The lights are on them, the giant screens flash into action, and the magic begins..
I still cant remember if it was a song from their latest album The Incident , or ‘The Sound of Muzak’ (In Absentia) that marked the start of the show.. the next 105 mins was like a haze. Some of the videos played on the background.. perfectly in sync with the twangs of the strings, or the numbing penetration of Steven Wilson’s voice.. sometimes he moved back, and just when you think the next stanza will begin without him managing to reach the stands on time.. he zooms in from nowhere like some airy spirit. ‘Open Car’ begins, and suddenly the lights are on the audience, 4000 heads banging to and fro, everyone seems possesed. A particularly receptive audience, everyone sings ‘Blackest Eyes’, perfect to the last note. Wilson’s voice booms “So what do you want to hear?”. Some chaotic jabber. “Sorry we don’t do requests.. Thats for us to know, and you to find out, hehe”. The magic continues, ‘Time Flies’, ‘Lazarus’, ‘Start of Something Beautiful’, ‘Way Out of Here’, ‘Halo’.. Suddenly, standing up high, with the wind in my face, a clear starry night above my head, everything seems to slowly whirl out of reality. It feels like the music is all that remains in this world. You could close your eyes and believe that the record was playing, enveloping you from all sides, seeping into your pores, everything was so perfect.. it was then that I realized that I had goosebumps all over.
Colin Edwin (bass) weaved some of the most beautifully haunting notes, completely at ease with his surroundings, smiling throughout the show. Blackest Eyes began, and Gavin Harrison (drums) had everyone on their toes. Lazarus was clearly Richard Barbieri’s (keyboards) best gift to the melody-hungry audience. Additional guitarist/vocalist John Wesley held the band together.. his pitch-perfect harmonies adding to the floating emotions PT delivers so effortlessly.
At 10pm, Wilson said “Bye-Bye” and suddenly all disappeared into darkness. An unexpected silence ensued.. and then a crazy chant of “We want more.. We want more”. After a few awkwardly long minutes they reappeared and said “Thank You”. “This is a song quite popular with the youth of America, .. Hope you like it too”, and thus they gave us ‘Trains’. The crowd sang along, people climbed up the light poles waving their hands, doing a circus act in mid-air.. The more I think about it.. the more unreal all of this seems now.. I dont remember when the show got over, how we got back to the house where we were putting up for the night.. The pink and blue backlights visit me sometimes, reminding me of the rim they created around their black silhouettes.. the weird smell of excitement, the crowd that made the show what it was, the silken hair covering Steven’s face while he sang for me, and the Porcupine Tree T-shirt I bought in a frenzy , but most of all the music.. aaah the music.. can anything really be more intoxicating?