CONCERT REVIEW: THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Kick Off Their US Tour Proving Their Undeniable Version Of The Truth (April 29th, 2022)

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The Pineapple Thief. The British quartet returned to American shores to begin a major US tour, kicking off with a date at The Plaza Live located in Orlando, Florida. Their Central Florida debut marked an opportunity for the band to share selections on US soil from not just one, but two new albums. 2020’s “Versions of the Truth”, as well as their forthcoming “Give it Back”, a collection of older Pineapple Thief songs completely reworked (or rewired, as they describe it) and overhauled from the ground up, this time with contributions from master drummer Gavin Harrison.

While it’s not part of the show itself and an additional cost, I would be remiss in not making some comments about the VIP experience that the band makes available. There are, of course, some standard things the band makes available that all these packages typically give, namely autograph opportunities and a photo with the band. However, what was a rather insightful and intriguing addition was the band discussing the writing and recording process, including playing several early rough and in process demos, and their subsequent evolution over the writing and recording process, with each member of the band providing their own insights and experiences. They also provided some more insight into the mindset and recording of their forthcoming “Give It Back” album. This was truly a unique look into a highly talented band’s working process, something that many fans don’t often get the chance to see or hear.
The show proper kicked off with the title track from “Versions of the Truth,” setting the pace for the night. The quiet and ominous opening chords lured the audience in before hitting them with the hard and heavy chorus. The band then switched over to “In Exile”, the opening track of 2016’s “Your Wilderness,” with front-man Bruce Soord’s haunting vocals holding the audience in rapt attention. “Demons” and “Our Mire” both made spectacular US debut appearances, particularly the latest.

While the previous half of the set had mostly been an alternating arrangement of tracks from “Versions of the Truth” and “Your Wilderness,” the band then paired off two tracks from their newest “Give it Back” rewired album, namely “Dead in the Water” and “Give it Back”. Somewhat different from the style of previous songs in the set, the title track “Give it Back” was a certified banger of a rock song, and had the Plaza crowd standing on their feet, with the feeling of a show closer. Thankfully, the band still had plenty more up their sleeves, including some tracks from “Dissolution,” specifically, “White Mist” was a show highlight for many of the crowd, paying special attention to Gavin’s showcase drums during the song. The main set closed out with “Wretched Soul”, another track from the new rewired album. While this had been a seated show, as the night went on, seats became a bit of a blur as the night went on, and many in the crowd decided to forego their chairs and migrated towards the front area of the venue, clearly enjoying every moment the band was performing.

The band was certainly in top form during the show. Bruce is the consummate front-man, and his vocals were in absolutely perfect form through out the show, never missing a note and always keeping the audience enthralled with his emotional songs and words. Bassist Jon Sykes, aside from holding down the low end duties, cannot be praised enough for his backing vocals. They provided such an important part of the sound, that as good as Bruce was, the songs would not have had as much emotional impact without his contributions. Keyboardist and synth player Steve Kitch was excellent as well, contributing much of the “glue” and support that holds the songs together, particularly on “Our Mire” and “Versions of the Truth”. And of course, one can’t have a performance by Gavin Harrison and not be astonished at how such a calm and reserved demeanor can contribute such astonishingly intense rhythms that transcend simply keeping a beat. A new addition to this tour, Beren Matthews was excellent in his role as second guitarist, providing several blistering solos to favorite songs.

I must make one further point: A band can sometimes only be as good as their support crew, and the band’s production crew should be commended. I must give top praise to the sound mixer for the band, as the show’s audio was probably one of the best that I have had the pleasure of experiencing, especially at this venue. The lights were also fantastically done, setting specific moods for songs, especially encore piece “The Final Thing On My Mind”, as well as a few other songs, where I found myself often staring around the venue taking the light show I was seeing in.

The Pineapple Thief are a band that has cemented their presence at the top of the modern prog scene, and they carry themselves on the stage as such. With a band that is in top form in terms of both musicianship and production, they are a force to be reckoned with, and an event not to be missed. At the end of the show, Bruce promised the crowd that they’d be back. The Orlando crowd will certainly hold him to that promise.

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