Live Review: The Pineapple Thief at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (6/10/18)

It was a big night for Bruce Soord and company. O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the biggest venue The Pineapple Thief had ever played up to that moment. The last show of a short 16-date tour that started in Paris’ La Maroquinerie on the 15th of September 2018. But the British proggers showed their worth to the packed Shepherd’s Bush theatre. Cheers to them!

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The Pineapple Thief has been rocking the prog world since 1999 and they have just released their 12th album, Dissolution (August 2018), which has already been No. 1 in the UK Rock Charts. The album includes artwork from Stylorouge, whose previous work includes Pink Floyd, Blur and Bowie, amongst others. It is the band’s second album to feature super solicited drummer Gavin Harrison (King Crimson, Porcupine Tree). As of August 2018, it was confirmed that he is now a full member of the band.

French art-rockers LizZard opened the evening with a seven-song set which included tracks from their latest album Shift (February 2018). Mastering complex rhythm patterns with creative guitar looping, the band really seemed to be enjoying their performance, as they never ceased smiling. After the show, frontman and drummer were by the merch stand chatting with the fans and signing some albums.

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LizZard

At 9pm The Pineapple Thief got on stage. The first song of the set was Dissolution’s ‘Try as I Might’, an excellent melodic opening. ‘In Exile’ followed, from previous 2016 record Your Wilderness, an attractive mix of indie elements with progressive drum lines. TPT kept going back in time to Magnolia (2014), playing ‘Alone at Sea’, whose bass line is quite reminiscent of British alt-rock duo Royal Blood. After that, ‘Threatening War’ and ‘Far Below’, both tracks from Dissolution. “‘Far Below’ is a bit of a jam session between myself and Gavin,” admitted Bruce Soord. “Gavin had this distinctive 6/8 rhythm going and it didn’t take long for me to find the melodies” [Source: Kscope].

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Bruce Soord & Gavin Harrison

Your Wilderness’ ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘That Shore’ were played next, the first one being introduced with a short acoustic performance delivered by Bruce. At this very moment, it seemed like the reverb on Bruce’s voice was a tiny bit excessive. Back to Dissolution, ‘All That You’ve Got’ and ‘Shed a Light’ shed some light on Gavin’s curriculum embracing progressive terrain. ‘3000 Days’ followed the avant-garde trail, the first track from Someone Here Is Missing record (2010). A perfect depiction of what the band sounded like before: evocative of indie harmonies and less technical on drums. Prog beats kept building up. ‘Part Zero’ (Variations on a Dream, 2003) and ‘White Mist’ (Dissolution, 2018) were the culminating moments of a Gavin-directed 18-minute progressive journey. Front-row fans kept staring at the kit open-mouthed and someone in the audience roared ‘Gavin is God!’. He seemed so focused he did not notice. ‘Nothing at best’, opening track for Someone Here Is Missing (2010), put an end to the performance prior to the encore. Impressively electronic-centred, keyboardist Steve Kitch took his chance to shine.

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Steve Kitch (right) and the tour guest guitarist (left)

‘Not Naming Any Names’ (Dissolution, 2018), ‘The Final Thing on My Mind’ (Your Wilderness, 2016) and ‘Snowdrops’ (one and only track from Little Man, 2006) were the remarkably potent set for the encore. All in all, a confident mix of mature, long-term vibes and fresh, avant-garde rhythmic archetypes.

To wrap up, the theatre’s acoustics completely amalgamated with the band’s sound. Nevertheless, Gavin’s (drums) and Jon’s (bass) rhythm section appeared to be devouring the harmonious guitars, keyboard and vocals at times. It was obvious that Gavin was a core component and of huge importance to the band, but the guitars and especially Bruce’s mellow voice could have done better with some more decibels.

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See you soon! Good luck and Godspeed!

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