As it was the final night of their North American tour, you can forgive Porcupine Tree if things didn't work out just quite right. Upon entering the theatre, those perusing the merchandise areas quickly saw "sold out" notices on most of the long-running UK band's wares; apparently, almost everything was snapped up the previous night in Montreal. Toronto was also the only venue of the tour that was seated, something that would come into play later.
Veteran Texas trio King's X opened the night with a solid, workmanlike set that covered their 20-plus-year career. Despite some obviously frustrating sound problems, the band plowed through fan favourites like "Black Flag," "Dogman" and "Over My Head," which found bassist Doug Pinnick bringing the night's most personal moment when he stepped to the front of the stage and led the crowd a capella in a singalong before ending on a high note with "We Were Born to Be Loved."
Porcupine Tree split their performance into two sets this evening. The first devoted entirely to the group's fantastic new album The Incident, an impressive cycle of 14 songs that spans almost an hour. Although they had some new, eerily fitting background visuals that had been shot specifically for the show, all eyes were still focused on the band's leader, guitarist/vocalist/creative mastermind Steven Wilson. Switching between electric and acoustic guitars and mellotron, the diminutive Wilson had a captivating hold on the sold-out audience. Dressed simply in black jeans and T-shirt, Wilson was happy to prance barefoot back and forth between bassist Colin Edwin and touring guitarist John Wesley. Edwin himself seemed in some sort of trance all night long, happily playing his bass lines, staring straight forward into the crowd.
After a quick ten-minute break, the band were back out for another seven-song set, including the tracks "Lazarus" and "Strip the Soul." In between songs, while Wilson was thanking the crowd, he was also asking if everyone was still alive. Apparently the band had been playing more intimate club performances in advance of Toronto, which remained a seated event until one-third of the crowd made their way stage-side for the show's encore, "Trains." It was obvious that the lack of interaction affected Porcupine Tree's performance, ultimately changing what could have been an amazing show into just a very good one.