Time seems to go by very fast. It was only four months ago that I got to see K’s Choice play in Israel after a decade of absence, and yesterday I was fortunate enough to see them again – and this time it was even greater than before.
A lot has happened in four months. I got married, finally finished work on my solo album in Hebrew and got to see some of my favorite bands play on stage.
Also, shortly after K’s Choice’s concert in Israel, a bunch of assholes pretending to be peace activists were killed by IDF forces, which naturally sparked an international crisis. Artists were pressured into canceling their concerts in Israel – and many of them did just that.
We are a BAND
In last night’s concert, Sarah Bettens stated that they’ve been asked to boycott the concert in Israel, to which she replied – we are a band that wants to play music to our fans. K’s Choice bass player Eric Grossman also confronted Elvis Costello for canceling his concert here after K’s Choice’s show in May (though this happened BEFORE the flotilla).
The audience in Israel loves K’s Choice very much. It seems that the feeling in mutual, as Bettens said on stage that immediately after the previous concert, she ordered her people to set up another one as soon as possible.
In May’s concert, K’s Choice did what most bands that haven’t performed in Israel (or anywhere else for that matter) in a decade do: they played a set comprised of all of their biggest hits, favorite songs from well known albums, a few songs from the new album Echo Mountain and a couple of songs from Sarah’s solo albums.
Last night, however, they decided to do something different – the concert was kicked off with a half-hour-long acoustic set. They played some of their most moving songs from Almost Happy and Cocoon crash, most notably being the first-ever-live-performance of Virgin State of Mind, a favorite of mine ever since I saw them play it on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the previous millennium.
Ironically enough, the acoustic set also included a performance of Butterflies Instead, in its original album arrangement with a full band and electric guitars. In the previous show (and also in the 2000 one if I recall correctly), they played it acoustically – with two acoustic guitars and no rhythm section. Although the actual acoustic version has its charm, the original arrangement is simply brilliant, and it was a pleasure seeing it performed on stage.
When the acoustic set was done and the band took a break, I told my wife – if only they played Shadowman as well this would have been perfect. An hour later I got my wish, as Gert Bettens and lead guitarist Thomas Vanelslander played it beautifully in the encore.
In the beginning, Sarah promised that after the acoustic set they will be back to rock us out after we cry about all the sad songs we had just heard. They absolutely delivered on that promise, and the band rocked the Barby for nearly an hour and a half before finally making their departure.
I find that it’s amazing how this band can do so much with so little: simple songs, basic arrangements and yet always exciting and interesting. You know a band is good when it can make you jump and bang your head without even turning on a distortion pedal in some songs.
And Now for Something Completely Different
I neglected to write about Porcupine Tree’s concert in Israel two months ago, therefore I think it’s appropriate to do so now, especially since their concert was the complete opposite of last night’s show.
Since Porcupine Tree has also not played in Israel in ten years (the last time I saw them, they were the opening act for K’s Choice in 2000), their set was also comprised of their “greatest hits”. I use the quotes because unlike K’s Choice, Porcupine Tree doesn’t really have any radio hits. Also they have released twice the albums.
Nevertheless, PT has a huge fan base in Israel, especially for a band that gets zero radio airplay here. I guess it’s partially due to Steven Wilson’s collaboration with Aviv Geffen in Blackfield, but that’s not the only reason.
They played songs from most of their albums, mainly Lightbulb Sun, In Absentia and The Incident. Another special treat was Dark Matter from the album Signify.
Porcupine Tree’s music is quite different from K’s Choice’s: long and complex compositions, odd time signatures and multiple guitar solos. Although PT’s music is simple compared to hardcore progressive rock bands, it’s quite challenging and not meant for the everyday Lady Gaga fan.
Overall it was a very tight show, played entirely using a click track as well as some loops that really upgraded the show while making the show feel a little robotic. Steven Wilson is an admirable singer and guitar player, Colin Edwin and Gavin Harrison are a formidable rhythm section team (though I still like Chris Maitland better), and Richard Barbieri on the keys definitely gets the job done.
I’m not as excited about their latest albums, but seeing those songs played live is a completely different experience. The tight performance and piercing sound made me enjoy even songs that I don’t exactly know by heart.
The concert was quite long, as are most of the songs, which at a certain point just became too overwhelming for me (partially due to not known some of the songs that well). But all in all, it was absolutely money well spent and a long time coming. Hopefully they won’t wait another ten years to return.