THE PINEAPPLE THIEF
The Bottom Lounge: Chicago, Illinois
December 1, 2019
- Tear You Up
- In Exile
- Alone at Sea
- Threatening War
- Far Below
- No Man’s Land
- That Shore
- Uncovering Your Tracks
- Shed a Light
- 3000 Days
- Part Zero
- White Mist
- Nothing at Best
- Not Naming Any Names
- The Final Thing on My Mind
Every time I decide to make the trek from St. Louis to another city for a concert (because that band isn’t coming to me), I find myself saying the same thing: this had better be worth it. To date, I have not been disappointed.
Still, there are concerts worth traveling for, and there are concerts worth traveling for. British Prog rockers The Pineapple Thief played a nearly two-hour show that definitely qualified them for the latter category.
The band’s heavy — but not too heavy — sound seemed tailor-made for the Bottom Lounge, a very cool concert venue that had very little room to move around in by the time the headliners took the stage. The standing-room crowd was highly energetic, and the band returned that energy with an absolutely blistering set.
Having just released a live album called Hold Our Fire, one might have wondered if The Pineapple Thief would be able to re-attain such a high level of energy. One did not have to wonder for long! From the opening strains of “Tear You Up,” there was no doubting this band came to play. Bruce Soord was charming and engaging with the audience while maintaining the smoldering intensity that drives his band’s songs.
Drummer Gavin Harrison, fresh off his stint behind the kit with King Crimson, propelled the band forward with his huge sound, which would have worked equally well in a much larger venue. He was a whirling dervish of activity, not easy to capture on camera.
Bassist Jon Sykes was rock solid yet understated when it came to holding down the grooves. He gave the songs precisely what they needed, including some on-point harmony vocals.
Keyboardist Steve Kitch provided fascinating textures, and not enough can be said for the guitar work of George Marios, who nearly stole the show on more than one occasion.
Soord, who strikes one as a rather reserved and stoic character, proved to be quite the dynamic frontman. His charming and sheepish personality quickly got the crowd into the palm of his hand, where it remained. He was the perfect vessel for this music to travel through.
Drawing nicely from their latest album, Dissolution, set highlights included “Threatening War” and “Shed a Light” from that album. But the band did a terrific job of working through its back catalog. Whatever they played, they played it well. It was one of those shows nobody wanted to end.
On the surface, 11-hour, 600-mile round trip journeys to hear two hours worth of live music seems a bit crazy. So why do it?
To catch gigs like this one.
By the way: be sure to ask for Harrison’s magic trick.
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