|The Pineapple Thief – Islington, Assembly Hall – 11 February 2017|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Saturday, 18 February 2017 04:00|
Tonight sees Somerset progsters The Pineapple Thief wrap up their latest tour by hitting a wet and cold North London on a Saturday night for a special performance to be filmed for a future DVD release. This local council-owned and run venue is one of the best in London, probably for that reason, and tonight is as packed as I’ve seen it for this totally sold out show. This tour has been promoting last year’s highly acclaimed ‘Your Wilderness’ album, and the set reflects that with much of the album featuring.
The prog fan is a strange breed, and the audience here tonight listen intently to every word and note. Silence during the songs is mandatory, and even the barman at the back counts his change quietly for fear of a stern glare from a disgruntled customer. At one point a suitably bearded adoring fan shouts between songs “You’re the best band currently active!” – a flamboyantly worded heckle you could only get at a prog gig!
The ‘Your Wilderness’ album featured Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree/King Crimson drummer Gavin Harrison on drums, and he’s been in the line-up on this tour. His performance tonight is a stunning display of technical proficiency, proving why he’s the current drummer of choice in prog circles – indeed Robert Fripp doesn’t have you in King Crimson unless you’re exceptional.
The ‘Your Wilderness’ material makes up the bulk of the set with ‘Tear You Up’ kicking things off and ‘The Final Thing On My Mind’ wrapping up the pre-encore set. In between, ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘In Exile’, ‘Take Your Shot’, and ‘Fend For Yourself’ all feature, and it’s clear from the audience reaction that this album is already established as a firm fans’ favourite. You could say the same for previous album ‘Magnolia’ too, with ‘The One You Left To Die’, ‘Alone At Sea’ and ‘Simple As That’ getting similarly rapturous responses.
Elsewhere, a re-vamped version of ‘Part Zero’ goes back to the early days when The Pineapple Thief was just a studio project rather than a functioning live band, with ‘Show A Little Love’ and ‘Reaching Out’, along with the encores of ‘Snowdrops’ and ‘Nothing At Best’ dipping into the vast back catalogue of the band. Special mention must go to main man Bruce Soord’s long suffering guitar tech who certainly earns his money tonight. Due to Soord’s liking of various different guitar tunings, this man is swapping guitars left, right and centre and at one point is actually juggling three at the same time.
Whilst undeniably prog, The Pineapple Thief is a more modern prog band, taking as much from the likes of Radiohead or Talk Talk as it does from the dinosaurs of the 70’s. The songs are not the overly long epics often associated with prog, although it was reassuring to get a couple of quick blasts of mellotron along the way. My interest started to wane towards the end of the set, and some of the material does tend to meld into one, but the audience here were clearly devoted and lapped this up, clearly looking forward to re-living the whole thing once the DVD filmed tonight is released.
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