The Pineapple Thief – Gig Review

To see my video review of The Pineapple Thief’s October 2018 Sheffield gig, click here.

In early October 2018, The Pineapple Thief were currently on tour supporting their new album “Dissolution”. If you’re not familiar with the band, I’d describe them as a sort of melodic, progressive rock band. This will NOT be an unbiased review – I love the band so I’m never going to be impartial, or neutral. So if that’s what you’re looking for, then this is not the video for you!

The gig was at The Leadmill in Sheffield. This is the first time I’ve been there, and it’s a great venue. It has a capacity of 900, really well laid out; there isn’t really anywhere you don’t get a good view of the stage. The place seemed pretty full, probably close to capacity I would say.

The sound was really good. Credit to the FOH sound engineer. I’ve been to some gigs, where the sound has been ok, and some where its been awful. But this was great; everything nicely balanced, the bass frequencies not overpowering everything else like sometimes happens.
Bruce Soord’s vocals cut through the mix nicely, as did the harmonies from the other members. Drums and bass gave a good thump, without being muddy. The only thing is maybe the lead guitarist could have been a little higher in the mix, but maybe I think that just because I’m a guitarist myself! But that’s nit-picking really; the overall sound was excellent.

This is the first time I have seen The Pineapple Thief live.
To watch, the band are really compelling visually. Some bands just stand there and it’s quite boring, not The Pineapple Thief! Bruce Soord – the singer, guitarist, front man & band leader did not disappoint. He has a commanding stage presence, moving around all over the stage when not required at his microphone. His voice sounded really soulful and ballsy live, backed up by his simple but really effective rhythm guitar playing, both acoustic and electric. And he’s a really great frontman – funny, great patter with the audience, and gets them involved at various points in the set. At one point his guitar tech was supposed to hand him an alternately tuned acoustic guitar, but he’d disappeared! He was fixing an issue with one of the lead guitarists’s guitars. And that could have been awkward, but Bruce made light of it and it made no real difference to the flow of the show – sign of a true experienced pro. And he smiles a lot, which is important. That obvious enjoyment on stage is infectious, and makes the audience almost feel like a part of the band.

John Sykes on the bass guitar provided excellent low end support, and is a very active bass player, really fun to watch. Also great backing vocals, really beautiful harmonies.
Hidden away at the back of the stage was Steve Kitch on the keyboards. These were rarely that prominent in the mix, but what you could hear sounded great and always fitted perfectly in the context of the song.
The lead guitarist whose full name I don’t know – I know his first name is George…what a guitar player! Technically brilliant, I was in awe of his technique at several points in the set, but also really soulful and melodic in more laid back sections of the set; certainly not just a one trick shredding pony!
And just a word about Gavin Harrison….holy crap! What a drummer! Certainly a candidate for the best drummer I have ever seen live. Ridiculous chops, and just looked so relaxed when playing these crazy beats and fills. Looked like he had 3 arms and 3 legs at certain points. Just an amazing musician, who I’ve admired for years through his work with Porcupine Tree, another one of my favourite bands.
Together, the band are tight as anything. Absolutely rock solid. And a lot of this stuff is not easy to play; lots of weird time signatures and time signature changes, lots of quite technical passages. The band were just on it the whole time. Really impressive musicianship from the whole band. And there were little bits of what I think was improvising; there were a few little glances and smiles between the band members suggesting that “oh, he’s not done that before”, which I love. And for such technical music – to be able to do that, that is a sign of a band right at the top of their game. There was lots of fun interplay between the band members, which makes for a really entertaining show.

The set was made up mainly of songs from the bands’ last 2 albums; Dissolution and Your Wilderness, with 4 or 5 songs from older albums. And the songs really come to life live; the dynamics and the expressiveness of the music just has to be felt live in my opinion. This is why music needs to stay live – you get that one off performance with all the energy, dynamism and of course the visuals you just can’t get on a recording.
The set flowed really well. The mood was taken up and down as it should be at all great gigs, with a great mix of upbeat heavy songs and more low key, melodic numbers.
If I had to pick a favourite from the evening, it would probably be “Alone at Sea” from the 2014 album Magnolia. This was the song the band played third, and the energy in this was just off the scale. The crowd went wild at the end of this, including me!

A word about the lighting; really good. Nothing spectacular, your typical band lighting par cans and strobes, but really well done. Supported and never distracted from the music, which is the hallmark of a good band lighting show.

The whole evening was just fantastic and I loved every second of it. The audience seemed to love it as much as I did, and there were a real cross section of people in the audience, from teenagers up to people older than me in their 50s and maybe 60s. Great atmosphere all evening,

A quick word about the support band; a band called Lizzard (two zeds); a French prog rock trio. They were really good, and set the stage nicely for The Pineapple Thief. Certainly a band I will checking out more of in the future.

To sum-up; I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend going to a The Pineapple Thief gig, and to the Leadmill in Sheffield. One of the best gigs I’ve been to in recent years, and easily worth the money I paid for the ticket. I hope they keep going for years and make many more albums, so I can get to see them on future tours.