I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Steven Wilson is a workaholic, because apart from recording The RavenThat Refused To Sing (2013, see review) − for me the best album of the year − he has worked on Blackfield's IV (2013, see review) and he also remixed a number of albums for several major progressive rock bands. Most of our readers will be aware of at least one of the activities he's been working on. Moreover, in the meantime he extensively toured with his band to promote The Raven and during this tour − I was so lucky to attend two of his shows − he still found time to work on an 'EP' that contains fifty minutes of audio and a DVD/BluRay of Wilson's live touring band that lasts for 65 minutes. "I don't do short", Wilson commented...
The CD starts with a shortened edit of Drive Home, a composition from The Raven, but the essence of this piece still stands like a rock. I truly hope that some DJ's will forget their arrogance for four minutes to play this excellent version! Next is The Birthday Party, an energetic kind of jam that has been left out from The Raven, but this piece was too impressive to be left on the shelves. During this song you can hear the coherency between the musicians. This piece is strongly based on jazz-rock and it sounds as a perfect example of a progressive jazz-jam session. The orchestral version of The Raven is a special one since the violins now play all the guitar parts. This is a very interesting approach that works out well with this song, which provides it a kind of bombastic atmosphere.
The final four compositions The Holy Drinker, Insurgentes, The Watchmaker and The Raven That Refused To Sing are live recordings. These songs are also presented on the DVD and show how strong this live band really is. People who attended the live shows with Chad Wackerman behind the kit instead of Marco Minnemann, who plays on this album, will notice the differences in style. Wackerman plays relaxed and jazzy, while Minnemann plays harder and rockier. I love both styles and they both leave a positive mark to Wilson's music. It's a big advantage that super guitarist Guthrie Govan plays on this album! He lifts the music to another dimension and I think Wilson has chosen the right man for the right job.
Like I wrote before the DVD holds four live songs: three from the previous album and the title track of Insurgentes . The show has been filmed greatly from different angles and shows a virtuoso band that's having a great time. During a part of the show you'll see the same curtain as on the DVD Get All You Deserve (2012), but that didn't bother me at all. During the show Steven Wilson clearly is the director. He plays guitar, bass, keyboards and acoustic guitar, while singing those magnificent songs; some full of emotion, others with power and anger.
Apart from Guthrie Govan, I have to mention bassist Nick Beggs. I guess he's a rather underrated musician, but he's a real virtuoso on the bass and the Chapman stick and he also sings a perfect second voice to Wilson's. The DVD also contains two nice videos: Drive Home and The Raven That Refused To Sing. Both videos can be found on the internet as well, but here it's a nice addition to the live music. Finally two 5.1 mixes of The Birthday Party and The Raven That Refused To Sing (Orchestral Version) can be enjoyed.
If you're a fan of Steve Wilson you really have to buy this CD-DVD, because the live versions really add something to the studio versions. On the live versions you can hear how the band members are perfectly attuned to each other. The live video underlines exactly what I mean! Watch those musicians on stage and you know how a great band should sound like. Drive Home is a unique document that again showcases the tremendous talents of Steven Wilson.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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