Porcupine Tree – Anesthetize [DVD]

It may not be ‘essential’, but it’s essential for any fan of “Fear of a Blank Planet”. It’s not often I get to see one of my favourite performed live in full. When I saw Porcupine Tree in person at their Seattle gig in ’09, they played all fifty five minutes of “The Incident” (the first time they ever performed it live). Although these album-sets that Porcupine Tree do aren’t much of a far cry from the album itself, it’s an incredible experience to see the music unfold before your very eyes. Of course, a DVD cannot hope to match the magic of actually being there, but it’s not often I’m so drawn into a concert video. It does not strike me as a masterfully executed live film, but “Anesthetize” is a celebration of one of the best progressive rock albums of the new millennium, almost to the point where the second half of the concert feels like bonus material.

First off, let me say that “Anesthetize” is a step-up from the “Arriving Somewhere…” DVD, a release that I enjoyed, but felt bogged down by loads of superfluous visual effects. It’s clear that Porcupine Tree learned from that blunder, because the picture is free of distractions. The quality of sound and video are both superb. ‘High-definition’ is the word to describe the technical quality here. Much like Porcupine Tree’s studio material, “Anesthetize” is given the highest quality production.

“Fear of a Blank Planet” is one of my favourite records ever, so It’s no surprise that I love the music here on “Anesthetize”. They are able to recreate the album note-for-note, delivering the same energy and atmosphere of the album. The vocal work might even be better than the album; touring guitarist and supporting vocalist John Wesley is amazing here, providing a slightly higher register contrast to Wilson. Although I’ve always liked Wilson’s voice, I was surprised to hear the amount of energy he’s able to put into his vocal performance, particularly when the music gets heavier. The seventeen minute namesake to this DVD wins my vote as the highlight. Supporting the band’s performance are some cinematic background visualizations, courtesy of visual madman Lasse Hoile. Unfortunately, Hoile’s cinematography is never given much of a spotlight.

The second half of the album consists of songs from other albums, as early as their “Signify” record. Three quarters of “Fear”s companion EP “Nil Recurring” are represented in full, and “In Absentia” gets a couple of tracks’ recognition. While I understand the decision to keep “Deadwing” mostly out of it- it was the primary focus of “Arriving Somewhere…”- only getting to hear “Halo” is a bit disappointing. The same precise musicianship and pristine recording crosses over to the second half of the concert, but- if only because I love “Fear…” so much, “Anesthetize” feels like it leaves off on a weaker note than it begins.

Although this Tilburg show has been released in several editions and formats, the standard edition of “Anesthetize” feels rather barebones. Barring the concert, there are no special features, interviews or documentary sections to give viewers a deeper insight into the band. I suppose that’s what the Special Editions are for, but even so, the choice to leave out any non-concert footage out of the loop feels a little puritanical. The concert itself is fantastic, but somehow, it feels like there’s something missing.

Overall, Porcupine Tree fans will definitely want to check this out if they haven’t already. It may not be a ‘definitive’ look into the band, but it’s a more tastefully executed concert film than most you’re bound to come across.


1. Intro
2. Fear Of A Blank Planet
3. My Ashes
4. Anesthetize
5. Sentimental
6. Way Out Of Here
7. Sleep Together
8. What Happens Now?
9. Normal
10. Dark Matter
11. Drown With Me
12. Cheating The Polygraph
13. Half-Light
14. Sever
15. Wedding Nails
16. Strip The Soul / .3
17. Sleep Of No Dreaming
18. Halo
19. Outro

Extras on Bluray:
Way Out of Here live film directed by Lasse Hoile
My Ashes live film directed by Lasse Hoile
Wedding Nails live film directed by Lasse Hoile
Strip the Soul / .3 live film directed by Lasse Hoile
Nil Recurring live film directed by Lasse Hoile


* Steven Wilson – vocals, guitar, piano
* Richard Barbieri – keyboards, synthesizer
* Colin Edwin – bass guitar
* Gavin Harrison – drums

* John Wesley – vocals, guitar

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