The Pineapple Thief - Live at Variety Playhouse

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Sometimes you listen to an artist but you don't figure that you'll have the opportunity to hear them live.  The Pineapple Thief is one of those, an English progressive rock band that's been around since 1999 but now touring the U.S. as a headlining act.  This was their first stop.

The band is following up on their critically (and personally) acclaimed Dissolution album from 2018, which was their first to draw me in, despite occasional check-ins on their prior music.  There's a few reasons for that.  First would be that the lyrics hold and the tunes are memorable. And, the addition of drummer Gavin Harrison provides an instrumental element that keeps my attention, and probably most listener's. Eleven of the 16 songs were from their last two albums, when Harrison joined the band.  My thought, though is that songwriter, singer Bruce Soord happened to find his stride at the same time. 

From their entry, you could tell that the band wasn't rusty.  They played a couple times in March and otherwise had taken a break from touring since March, but their set list remains the same.  Soord confidently took the stage, and Variety Playhouse's sound system again delivered a well mixed sound, with clear vocals and instruments.

One benefit, of a sort, is the music is in the background when Soord sings, giving his voice plenty of room.  Arguably, as a "prog rock" band, one could argue that the band rarely has a chance to stretch itself musically.  In concert, you appreciate the musicianship more than on their recordings.  The chops are there, just shorter in duration than one might expect.

 It's pretty clear though, that while many bands labeled in the genre write music with fairly crappy lyrics, Soord writes lyrics, often personal and perhaps too often about relationship problems, and the music comes after. It's not that this is a better way to write a song, but it delivers a helpful context and meaning for the listener, as opposed to those who dispatch cliches based on prog's early 70's lyrical indulgences.

 Highlights for me were a strong choice for an opener in "Tear You Up," the followup "In Exile," "White Mist," a rocking "3000 Days," and really everything else from Dissolution.  Every band is going to throw in a slower song, but "That Shore" didn't carry its weight in the lineup. 

Overall, it was a great performance, particularly from Soord who carried the show.  Harrison's fluidity behind the set was often the eye candy, and bassist Jon Sykes brought the fire when the band was turned loose.  A great show!

Set list:

  • Tear You Up - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • In Exile - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Alone at Sea - Magnolia - 2014
  • Threatening War - Dissolution - 2018
  • Far Below - Dissolution - 2018
  • No Man's Land - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • That Shore - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Uncovering Your Tracks - Dissolution - 2018
  • Shed a Light - Dissolution - 2018
  • 3000 Days - Someone Here is Missing - 2010
  • Part Zero - 3000 Days - 2009
  • White Mist - Dissolution - 2018
  • Nothing at Best - Someone Here is Missing - 2010


  • Not Naming Any Names - Dissolution - 2018
  • The Final Thing on My Mind - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Snowdrops - Little Man - 2006

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