Backdoors by The Humming Tree ft. Steven Wilson, Patrick Watson and Jose Gonzales
India and Bangalore in particular has in the recent past been host to several international artists. It's a good time for the music scene. But ever so rarely, an act comes along that establishes complete rock-n-roll dominance, putting them on a pedestal - a cut above the rest. Backdoors presented by The Humming Tree was one such rare occurrence.
Themed around a 'secret garden party', Backdoors showcased 3 artists this year. Tickets for the event were sold out a good 15 days before D-Day. That pretty much summed up the levels of anticipation in Bangalore. The crowd was large - so much for the 'secret' garden party - easily 2000 in number.
First up was Argentinian-Swedish indie-folk singer Jose Gonzales who set the mood for the evening with his ambient, dreamy soundscapes. He was followed by 2007 Polaris Prize winner Patrick Watson, who set the stage with backlit tambourines, foreshadowing the psychedelic evening to come. As soon as Watson ended his show with a soul-stirring solo performance on the Piano, the crowd began a steady chant for show-stopper – Steven Wilson.
Patrick Watson's surreal stage set up with back-lit tambourines
The crowd went wild on the very first note of the intro of the titular opening track - Hand Cannot Erase. Steven Wilson suavely thanked us for the roaring applause. He told us that it was the 154th and final show of his world-tour for his latest album of the same name. “You'd expect that we could play our songs well by now”, he joked as laughter echoed around the Indiranagar Club. Having visited India 8 years ago along with Porcupine Tree, Wilson was no stranger to the sub-continent's fans. He teased us with hints as to the next song, a tribute to the recently deceased David Bowie (May his soul rest in peace) and a crowd favourite – Lazarus.
Wilson was completely in control of the show as he swapped guitars between songs and danced with his idiosyncratic jitters all over the stage. Backed by a bass guitar, drums, rhythm guitar, synth and an ingenious sound engineer, he nearly bore his music into our skulls. I could even feel the bass reverberating in my earrings! Behind the band was a humongous LCD display, typical of the psychedelic, art-rock movement that Wilson subscribed to. As he has done time and again before, he enraptured the audience in a trance and squeezed so hard, we didn't know if we ought to sigh or scream!
Steven Wilson performs in front of his signature LCD screen backdrop
He wasn't done with the tributes though. Mid-way through the set, the lights went purple and a funky groove announced an incredible rendition of legendary pop icon Prince's Sign O' the Times. Overall the set list was very balanced and had a good mix of his solo projects as well as nostalgic numbers from his Porcupine Tree days.
The concert ended on a tone of reverence. I could feel a sullen prayer for the crazy year that has been 2016. Steven Wilson's carefully picked out songs were a fond retrospect of the likes of David Bowie and Prince, trailblazing legends who symbolized the epitome of liberalism, free thinking and openness. Perhaps it was Wilson's way of subtly getting the audience to reflect on happier and simpler times, urging us to break down our bubbles and barriers and love and celebrate all humanity.
Or maybe I read too much into it. Whatever it was supposed to be, it was deliciously satisfying!