One more change I've noticed is that you no longer have to go up and down various steps and walkways, following the overpass through the old Shell Building, to get from the South Bank Centre to Waterloo Station. Now that they've built newer footbridges across the Thames, there is also a direct, ground-level footpath to take you straight to the station. The mass exodus of folks all going to Waterloo apres-gig reminds me of the aftermath of a football match! In fact, it's such an efficient improvement that I was able to catch an earlier train to Eastleigh. Of course, it didn't help me one little bit in the long run, because the connection from Eastleigh to Fareham was exactly the same one I would have got anyway, I just had to wait longer in the cold'n'frosty for it! Ah well...STEVEN WILSON - ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL 04/03/13
As we stream into the magnificent auditorium (no one gets a bad seat at the RFH!), there is already an ambient soundtrack of BASS COMMUNION music playing on the surround-sound PA, and the image of a large moon peeping through slowly drifting clouds being projected onto the screen behind the stage. Every so often (just to see if you're paying attention) the moon transforms into a spooky face. Eventually as we get closer to 'showtime', the music builds to a petulant frenzy of VERY creepy voices (they're behind you!) and the moon face comes to resemble the one on the "Raven" album cover. Tonight's theme, if you didn't already know, is GHOST STORIES.
The first number is of course "LUMINOL", kicked off by that scattergun snare'n'twang duet intro from MARCO MINNEMANN and NICK BEGGS. The sound system is awesome, as you'd expect from the music industry's Number One Go-To Guy for DOLBY 5.1 SURROUND SOUND remastering. It's not the "LOUD" of most rock concerts you ever went to, it's cinema-quality HI-FIDELITY! With separation between the instruments and everything! Actually the 'surround' elements can be most disconcerting at times (THEY'RE BEHIND YOU!!!), most fitting for the spooky subject matter... "Luminol" runs through its very busy eleven minutes or so, featuring some fine jazzy Rhodes flourishes from ADAM HOLZMAN - the last time I remember him playing at this particular venue, it was at the 1995 London Jazz Festival with WAYNE SHORTER. Say no more... the set proceeds, in keeping with the album running order, with "DRIVE HOME". What can I say? Beautiful, with lashings of mellotron and e-bow.
"THE PIN DROP" next (Blimey, they've played nearly half of the new album already and we've only just sat down. Or so it seems...) The band are magnificent. This is the first time I've seen and heard the hirsute 'new' guitarist GUTHRIE GOVAN. He is probably stylistically more versatile than 'last years' Niko Tsonev. Steven Wilson comments that with him in the band, he doesn't get to play so much guitar himself, so when he does crank it up at the climax of the song it's a stirring racket indeed... My only criticism of last year's "GET ALL YOU DESERVE" set was that the flute and sax work of THEO TRAVIS was sometimes lost amongst all the activity (either that or he appeared to spend a lot of time standing there and 'waiting his turn'). I'm glad to say that he's now able to shine out a lot more with the new material.
A dip into the back catalogue with "POSTCARD", with vocal harmonies that literally come from somewhere in the back of your head... "THE HOLY DRINKER" starts off with Steven Wilson playing bass guitar and NICK BEGGS standing to one side and 'waiting HIS turn'. Fashion Notes: Tonight, Mr Beggs has decided to renounce the pigtails and is sporting what looks like a knee-length military frock coat/kilt combination (Honestly! if he wasn't such a valuable bass player, he'd deserve a LOT more ridicule than he does get, having now achieved over thirty years of consistant style-horror! I have two words for you, Kaja and Googoo)... Then the Chapman Stick kicks in and it seemingly comes from somewhere under your seat!
A gorgeous Jarrett-esque 'grand' piano intro leads into the wonderful "DEFORM TO FORM A STAR" (Hooray! My favourite!) Once again, the vocal 'chorale' seems to come at you from all four corners of the room. Oh!? and did I say how good the drum sound is?
The semi-transparent screen is lowered between the stage and the audience (You know? You've seen "Get All You Deserve", right?) and the introductory "Watchmaker" video is projected, complete with quadrophonic (or is it quintophonic?) clock noises. Okay, so Pink Floyd did it first, but it's still rather wonderful. "THE WATCHMAKER" itself naturally ensues, which along with the following "INDEX" are performed 'behind the screen', a very simple but effective piece of stagecraft.
Mr Wilson tells us about a rather stupid (and lazy) Amazon review which refers to his "Tolkeinesque" lyrics. His mother (up there in the Royal Box tonight) didn't raise him to write about Hobbits and wizards, he says, he writes about serial killers as every good boy should.
Back a little further in the catalogue, and "INSURGENTES" itself is given an airing before the great and powerful "HARMONY KORINE" complete with its surreal LASSE HOILE video shot against the desolation of Dungeness and Battersea.
"NO PART OF ME" sound particularly good tonight, an 'old' song that this band is starting to make its own... But now it's THE BIG ONE, the serial killer-themed tour de force that is "Grace For Drowning"'s "RAIDER II", probably the one track most influenced by his experience of dissecting King Crimson's "LIZARD" and "ISLANDS". Ah! the mellotrons! Ooh! the unison riffs played on fuzzy guitars and skronking saxophones! Oh! the megaphone-flavoured vocals! Wah! the unfeasibly timeshifting ensemble work! (and another scary Lasse Hoile video from the vaults, just to hammer home the fright factor)
"Raider" is without its coda, but instead it segues directly into the title track of "THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING", with the poignant animated video that accompanies it... Thus ending the show on the same emotional climax as the album itself.
Baying for more! Baying for more!! There is the age old problem of what to do as an encore when you don't have any 'hits'. What they have tried on this tour is to include a sort of open-ended 'blow' (let the jazzers in the band have a go!) based on some choice items from Steven's back catalogue. In Manchester, it was "Remainder The Black Dog" merged with "No Twilight Within The Courts Of The Sun". In Glasgow, it was an early Porcupine Tree song (i.e. when PT was still a 'solo' project rather than a 'band') "RADIO-ACTIVE TOY". And that's what they played tonight as well, complete with films of atom bombs going off, like the end credits of "Dr Strangelove"... It's not a fantastic SONG by today's standards (although Porcupine oldtimers might disagree), but it has a loose enough structure to allow room for some jazzy interplay, as well as some Floyd-like SPACE MUSIC...
Standing ovation... the names and caricatures of the band members are projected onto the back screen as they take their bows... Hooray! Times Six!... and that's ya lot!
Not surprisingly, there is also an entire Forum 'thread' dedicated to the question 'HOW DO I CHANGE BACK TO OLD MYSPACE?', mainly populated by the unhappy victims of MS's 'SWITCH TO THE "NEW" MYSPACE!' subterfuge, all of them still wondering where their photos and blogs have gone... The catchy slogan on the log-in page now makes it clearer that this IS strictly a 'MUSIC' site, rather than anything else you might EXPECT mon espace to be ("Discover, share and connect to music from the world's largest streaming library..."), but it's TOO LITTLE TOO LATE for some of the OldSpacers who jumped in with both feet...JGB - "Nearly all of the songs in my 'albums' are duplicated. I originally reported this problem two months ago. It happened almost the minute NMS came out of 'beta'. Nothing seems to get fixed. Meet the "New" MS, Same as the "Old"..."UPP - "New Myspace is still in beta, all that changed is that everyone can now sign up, whether they have an invitation or not. Either way I hope your problems will be fixed soon enough."JGB - "I stand corrected. I think we have different definitions of "beta testing". I understand 'beta' to mean that a product is tested by an INVITED panel of people (interested parties outside of the company that created it), to iron out any bugs BEFORE it is considered fit to be released to the general public. You are clearly using the term in the long-established MySpace sense, which is to release a product before it is ready and then test it on the public. Sorry, so by your definition then, I should have said that the problems started the minute they opened it up to the public..."PB - "Finally, someone who has a gist of what's going on here..."
I think we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.WHAT'S IN A NAME?
I think that half the problem with "New" Myspace is its name.
I wouldn't for a minute suggest there was any sort of deliberate deceit or subterfuge on the part of MySpace LLC, but long time users of the pre-existing MySpace were misled into believing that this was somehow a "New" replacement for the old MySpace, when it is nothing of the kind.
As a standalone music streaming site or considered as an ADDITION to the MySpace experience, it does a very good job of providing an alternative to the bolted-on afterthought of a music player that we have on "Classic" MySpace.
But it is NOT a self-contained social network site which offers a new way of enjoying MySpace. It is a music streaming site, pure and simple. I appreciate that your blurb on the log-in page now makes this a little clearer, but it's a case of TOO LITTLE TOO LATE for a lot of folks.
Calling it MySpace Music, or Radio MySpace, or even MuSpace would have been a more honest approach, rather than coercing existing users into switching to something that isn't a "New" "MySpace" at all.
If experience has taught us anything at all, it's that what MySpace IS to its users (an artistic community built by its users from the grass roots up) is often at odds with what the owners WOULD LIKE IT TO BE (a potential marketing opportunity).
I honestly believe this site has a lot of potential as a music streaming platform. But a "New" "MySpace" it ain't!!UJ - When you buy a new computer, it won't necessarily have the same functions as your old computer, but that doesn't mean you can't call it a 'new computer'.Point taken. I certainly wouldn't. But then I wouldn't personally buy a new computer in the expectation that it WILL have the same functions as the old one. Sadly, other potential 'buyers' are not so savvy.
I think the analogy of a NEW APARTMENT would be more appropriate when you consider people's expectations here. I believe that what a lot of people understood "New Myspace" to mean, rightly or wrongly, was that this was a new UPGRADE to the MySpace social networking experience (in the tradition of previous transitions from Profile 1.0 to 2.0 and so on), one that would comfortably accommodate all their existing stuff.
The early promotional blurb aimed at existing users obviously gave a lot of folks that impression. Only now, with the latest version of the log-in pages, is it being made clearer that New MySpace is first and foremost a MUSIC site.
When I was "invited" to try New MySpace, I realised, fairly early on, that this was an entirely new thing. I took the precaution of leaving my old MySpace intact and creating a "New" one from scratch. I also urged my friends on OldSpace that that would be the wisest thing to do, should they want to try it out.
I'm rather glad I did, because, from what I've read here on these forums, that "SIGN IN WITH CLASSIC MYSPACE" option has caused nothing but misery for existing users.
As a 'musician' (albeit one who nowadays only does it for 'fun') I can see the new site having potential.
However, I am also someone who still sees MySpace as A PLACE FOR FRIENDS. It is a place where I have been able to share ALL of my interests - music, blogging and all - with like-minded individuals around the globe.
New Myspace doesn't cater for amateur all-rounders like me. The owners of MySpace wish to promote this as a branch of the entertainment industry.LG - Thank you for that post. Up until now I had no idea what the hell I'm supposed to do with this "New" Myspace. In short I think it's a lot a crap. The Myspace guys need to sober up and get their heads out of their butts and integrate and explain these things in a little smarter way. New Myspace is useless to me. I'm cancelling both accounts altogether.I think cancelling BOTH accounts is rather cutting off your nose to spite your face... but that's your business.
...but I agree that that they didn't fully "explain these things" (especially to long-time users of the 'old' MySpace). Folks, rightly or wrongly, were given a completely misleading impression of what this site is actually FOR and what it could and couldn't DO.
On the bright side, at least we actually HAVE forums on "New" MySpace, on which we can thrash these things out with representatives of Timberlake Towers. The previous administration REMOVED the forums and 'threads' from the old MySpace years ago (citing "security" issues), leaving no means at all for members to interface with The Management. I hope this opportunity will continue when NMS emerges from its "beta" cocoon (spammers permitting).GI - Misleading? I know change can be scary, but this is the place to be for creativity.MySpace AS A WHOLE is still "the place to be for creativity", I wholeheartedly agree. I've tried 'the rest' and nothing offers anything like the same all-round experience. But I believe that if you want to get the most from MySpace, you need to have BOTH a "New" site AND a "Classic" one. "New" MySpace is NOT a replacement for the old one, in my opinion.
The scope for diverse creativity (music + creative writing + all the other things you've got used to doing on your old MySpace) are currently a bit limited via this portal.
But if promoting and sharing your music is your ONLY thing, then fair enough, it does that job admirably.Moderator - Having to learn something new can sometimes be intimidating... New Myspace is not just a music site. It's a creative community for filmmakers, artists, designers, photographers, etc. We are currently in beta but features are being developed for each account type. Our objective is to offer a platform that allows users to create and maintain their brand while presenting themselves and their work in the best possible light. Rest assured, there is more to come. We realize change can be hard and the new Myspace may not be for everyone but we hope you will give it a try. Thank you for being so patient with us as we continue to develop the site and improve your Myspace experience. Our users are important to us and we want to hear your suggestions. Keep the feedback coming! :)Personally, I'm not in the least bit intimidated by New MySpace. I have an inquisitive mind, a reasonable grasp of "HOW THINGS WORK" and I welcome the opportunity to explore. But a lot of OTHER people are pulling their hair out in frustration. I was merely trying to voice those frustrations and provide a little context. Devil's advocate, if you will.