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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Porcupine Tree

Arriving Somewhere DVD

Review by Julie Knispel

When one considers that Porcupine Tree has been a touring band for over a decade, and has several live albums to their credit, it is amazing that the band has not had an official DVD documenting their live show until now. Recorded live in Chicago on 11 and 12 October 2005, Arriving Somewhere... showcases Porcupine Tree’s powerhouse Deadwing concert tour, offering up a selection of current tracks, a few older favourites, and some rarities and oddities to boot.

Fans of the band know full well that Steven Wilson and the rest of the band do not rest on past glories, and the setlist for this performance is evidence of this. The main concert program features no song older than 1999’s “Don’t Hate Me” from the Stupid Dream album. The majority of the tracks selected for the shows documented here derive from 2002’s In Absentia and 2005’s Deadwing releases. Interestingly, the band also decided to pull a few B-sides and otherwise lesser-known tracks for the shows leading up to those filmed for release; among these are tracks released on DVD-A or vinyl editions of the band’s recent efforts (“So Called Friend,” “Revenant,” “Mother and Child Divided”). While long-time fans of the band might bemoan their inclusion at the expense of other, possibly older tracks, they are an enjoyable addition for the less hardcore collector who does not go out and buy every version of a Porcupine Tree release.

Visually the DVD’s production is busy and at times overwhelming. Steven Wilson sees each project as an individual piece of artwork, and as such this is not a traditional concert video. The footage is heavily processed and strewn with effects, fading from colour to black and white, or exhibiting apparent film damage, with speckles, dust, lines, et cetera. While the end result of this is a film that stands on its own as an artistic achievement, fans looking for a concert video will be ultimately disappointed. From an audio standpoint, however, Arriving Somewhere... does everything but disappoint. Sound quality is excellent, with a rich, punchy mix that really puts the listener in the venue for the show. The mix is excellent whether one listens to the LPCM stereo mix or the 5.1/DTS mixes. When one considers how important audio and sound staging are to Porcupine Tree (especially considering their acceptance and embracing DVD-A technology for audio), this should not come as a surprise at all.

Initial plans for this release included a career-spanning documentary directed and produced by long time collaborator Lasse Hoile. Sadly, time constraints removed this feature from inclusion. This does not mean that the set does not include any extras of bonus features, however; the second DVD includes a pair of tracks from Porcupine Tree’s 2005 performance in Koln Germany, filmed for WDR’s Rockpalast show. “Futile” (an extra track from the In Absentia sessions) and “Radioactive Toy” (from 1991’s On The Sunday Of Life) are presented in a much more traditional manner, and are perhaps what a number of people hoped for and expected from this release. Sadly, the footage seemed to be overdeveloped for the broadcast, and looks slightly washed out compared to the main program (the same was true of the original broadcast). Additionally, the projections used for several songs in the main program are presented on his bonus disc, giving the viewer the opportunity to take in the eerie and appropriate mini-films created for this tour. Finally, a promo video for Deadwing’s single “Lazarus” and a 5.1 track of Gavin Harrison’s “Cymbal Song” fills out the set’s bonus features.

While Arriving Somewhere... is anything but a traditional concert video, long-time Porcupine Tree fans should not have expected anything different. It is an impressive artistic achievement, and hopefully opens the door for future releases of similar exceptional quality.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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