Backbeat: Porcupine Tree Frontman Steven Wilson's First NYC Solo Gig @ Best Buy Theater
Backbeat: Porcupine Tree Frontman Steven Wilson's First NYC Solo Gig @ Best Buy Theater

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Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess (left) and Steve Wilson. (Photo: Christa Titus)

After fronting the band Porcupine Tree and collaborating on such projects as Blackfield and Bass Communion, U.K. prog maven Steven Wilson headlined his first New York show as a solo artist on Nov. 11. Cheering him on at the Best Buy Theater were Turkish composer Eren Basbug, Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess (whose MorphWiz synth app won last year's best music creation app at the Billboard Music App Awards) and Metal Injection co-owner/executive producer Frank Godla. Wilson set the intense atmosphere in the venue by performing behind a semi-opaque curtain as foreboding pictures flashed across it, holding the audience in such rapt attention you could hear the musicians count off onstage. He alternated among keyboards, guitar and wandering about the space, gesturing, perhaps conducting, bespeckled and barefooted, as he and the band traversed journey songs from his new album "Grace for Drowning" like "Index" and "Remainder the Black Dog." The crew wrapped up with 20-minute finale "Raider II," with Wilson imploring the room to please "not call out 'Freebird'" during its quiet intro. "It's not funny," he said simply, his serious demeanor making the comment all the more amusing.

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During the after-show meet-and-greet, chitchat included reminiscing about Genesis shows of yore when Peter Gabriel still led the group. Although Rudess graciously took a picture with Wilson (now wearing black Chuck Taylors) for Billboard.biz, he hired and fired this reporter as an impromptu photographer within 30 seconds when I couldn't figure out how to snap a picture of him and Wilson with an iPhone. Also congratulating Wilson on a great show was legendary Rolling Stone writer David Fricke, who conversed with rock journalist Bryan Reesman and PiercingMetal.com founder Ken Pierce about (no lie!) how crucial it is to have a copy editor check headlines and subheads when articles are posted online.

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Steve Wilson (left) and Rolling Stone writer David Fricke. (Photo: Christa Titus)