All set for a lengthy tour that sees them boldly marching into Europe before taking on the USA in 2022, we were lucky enough to catch The Pineapple Thief on the second date of their emergence back onto the live stage.
The Pineapple Thief, Alex Henry Foster & The Long Shadows, Manchester Ritz, 7th October 2021
The band is set to release the Nothing But The Truth set that will stand as an extensive record of the online, on-demand live set from April of this year so not surprising that tonight the focus is on Versions Of The Truth – the album that’s been out for just over a year. Bruce Soord’s organisation of streamed and online performances has guaranteed the fans of TPT haven’t been left wanting. However, there’s nothing like the real thing.
First up, a reminder that you should always see the support band. We do this regularly. It’s a mantra and after watching Alex Henry Foster open for …Trail Of Dead a couple of years ago, his set was essential. He might specialise in filling his short slot with twenty minute songs, starting off with the old trick of the violin bow in his guitar and then getting lost in the moment as the five piece band The Long Shadows created a sonic canvas for him to orchestrate an increasingly fervent delivery. Fire and brimstone, like an old preacher, stirring and very tremendous. Having the option to switch between two drummers and two guitarists added to the vastness of the songs.
He’ll be returning to the Deaf Institute in town on a headliner tour next year . “Is it cool? is it like, a huge arena??” he asks much to the amusement of the audience who know it’s not quite the several thousand cap but a room he will surely own. We shall certainly be there.
The Pineapple Thief meanwhile are pure class. They may be considered experienced vets on the scene these days but the current incarnation that’s seen Gavin Harrison step into the drummer, writer, arranger, tea-maker and all, role has seen the band step up a gear. You may buy into the old adage of if it ain’t broken why fix it, but The Pineapple Thief is proof that a good band can get even better. The last three albums have been right out of the top drawer and with the current Versions Of The Truth, provide the bulk of the set. A nod to their past shows that Bruce Soord isn;t embarrassed by it as Ten Stories Down’s Wretched Soul closes the set with some beef and the encore includes Part Zero from Variations On A Dream. Granted, they’re not antique pieces, but hard to figure that almost 15/20 years have passed since they appeared.
And those styles they can cover. Although they’re often placed under the Prog flag, one might insist that the appeal is much broader than that. Songs like Driving Like Maniacs and Out Of Line appear all smooth and even smoochy yet they sit easily next to the stark riffing and march of Break It All – a personal favourite moment of Versions Of The Truth – carried by a cool Zep swagger. Likewise, from Dissolution, I’m in hog heaven when they do the brooding Uncovering Your Tracks.
Music like the epic (ie, longer) White Mist shows them playing their progressive card and you can spot how they grew up being linked with the likes of Porcupine Tree (one friend refers to them – accidentally – as Pineapple Tree…) as the spiralling mid song guitar solo evolves and Harrison is covering ebery inch of his kit before we return to the friendly chorus.
Whether we’re presented with versions of the truth or nothing but the truth, deluxe packages or 5.1 options of streamed events, The Pineapple Thief live on stage is a compelling event. It might have been a slow growth, but those who’ve been on the journey have that satisfaction that comes with seeing your band flower.
Not wanting to come across sounding all Bono, but for The Pineapple Thief, these are their days, this is their time. And the one thought on leaving the venue and walking out into a balmy (it’s October too!) Manchester night is that for a band seemingly at it’s peak, there’s the distinct possibility that they could even get better!