I would have gone to pretty much any venue to see these guys! Porcupine Tree has been on heavy rotation in my house for several years now.
The dynamic range that PT employs for their catalog of work is extremely broad. Songs can go from a breathy sigh to a face melting assault in an instant. Steven Wilson has a beautiful voice, the atmospheric keyboards provided by Richard Barbieri gently sweep currents through the soaring guitars and Colin Edwin's rolling bass lines. Gavin Harrison's drumming is tight and meaningful. John Wesley was filling in as second guitarist, as he has for PT for several years now, and seems to be very comfortable in that role.
The Band played, in its entirety, the first disc of the Incident, their new release. It was my first time hearing it, as it is just released. The work is epic. I am planning to run out today and snatch one up so that I can play it to death! It is 55 minutes of work, developed as a concept album. For Prog fans, that is code for "AWESOME!" It should fit into the history of concept rock very nicely indeed. After such a performance you would expect "thank you, goodnight" from many bands, but PT played for at least another hour after a 10 minute intermission.
Here I must interject- people, when they say 10 minutes it is TEN FREAKING MINUTES- get your butt back in the seat by 0:09:55 so we can ALL enjoy the second half without interruption! Thank you very much!
Club Nokia provided an excellent, somewhat intimate opportunity to see this remarkable band. The house is raked at nearly 45 degrees. Nobody should have had difficulty seeing the stage. Two smallish monitors provided extra viewing. The Sound system was very well designed. The music was not overly loud, and it was well mixed. The visuals, designed by Lasse Hoile were projected behind the band, as well as on the house monitors- additionally laser and special effect lighting added nicely to the experience.
The venue provides a very civilized place to enjoy a fine performance. The attendees were, for the most part, a civilized bunch- but I really did expect that. Seats were rather narrow, which meant that except for standing ovations, everyone remained seated during the show. PT guards their performances closely, no photos or recording devices. They requested that the audience police themselves, and I did not once see the LED of a cell phone held in the air for a quick snap. Very well mannered crowd.
On the down side, I was in the back row of the upper balcony, and loud talking, drifting in from the bar area was somewhat distracting. Parking around the LA Live complex (Staples Center, Nokia Theatre, Convention Center & Club Nokia + shops & Restaurants, was poorly signed. We had hoped to park in one of the on-site garages, but couldn't find an open entrance! It was also confusing to navigate due to the media and staging setting up for the EMMYs the next day.
Overall, I hope that the rest of the tour can be played in venues as nice as Club Nokia, Porcupine Tree's music and fans deserve no less!