The Pineapple Thief – Camden Underworld, London

Last night saw a trip to the capital for a gig by The Pineapple Thief in cosmopolitan Camden Town, a place for which the word “bustling” is woefully inadequate.

After a leisurely drive down the M1 enforced by 20 odd miles of 50 mph speed limit restrictions, then straight down the A1, then A400 we arrive in Camden, and park in the street, for free! A simpler journey to the heart of North London I have never witnessed. Fortified by a rather good Chinese meal, we enter the Underworld, which, as it’s name suggests, is underneath a cavernous pub called The World’s End.

Support act Godsticks, a guitar/bass/drums trio augmented by electric piano on the laptop served up some heavily Zappa influenced almost fusion styled noise, the two guitarists playing some neat syncopation. Not bad at all.

After a short break The Pineapple Thief appear. If you have been following this blog, you’ll know that I consider this band should be playing far larger venues than 500 or so capacity clubs like this. Their sound is so suited to bigger venues that if you close your eyes it’s easy to imagine you are in a 5000 seater concert hall.

They open with uptempo rocker God Bless The Child. The sound is loud but not distorted at all – a difficult thing to achieve in a cavern like this. Following up with another rocker, the should-be-a-stadium-anthem and autobiographical 3000 Days, the place is now starting to jump. Wake Up The Dead could do just that in this dark cellar of a place. After a couple more numbers there follows an acoustic led section in the middle of the gig, with Counting The Cost and Part Zero slowing things down, crashing back in with the neat electronics backed Preparation For Meltdown followed by the single Show A Little Love which is the only song on last year’s Someone Here Is Missing that doesn’t do much for me anymore, but the crowd loved it. The final two numbers in the main set prove to be the highlight. So We Row builds from its staccato beat start through an almost ballad like middle section before bubbling synths hint at the psychedelic meltdown to come, slowly slowly building with waves of space noise, the back beat unerring, echoed vocals, here it comes…Bruce’s guitar is then attacked with gusto, side stage photographers competing for the best shot. The song quiets down “…to a place where no-one makes a sound.” Give this man Bono’s stage! Bloody marvellous. Finally we have the 15 minute Too Much to Lose which gives Bruce the chance to show his guitar off to best effect, with a wall of noise crescendo guided from the ether by Gilmour, Page, Cobain and Neil Young. It’s a tough beast that Strat, it was still alive at the end, protesting through a wail of angry feedback. Rock and indeedy, Roll!!

The band disappear backstage for a brief towelling down before reappearing for the inevitable encores. At this point I’d like to say that rhythm section Jon Sykes (bass, vocals) & Keith Harrison (drums, harmony vocals) were as tight as a gnat’s chuff throughout, enabling Steve Kitch (keyboards, effects) & Bruce Soord (aforementioned mangled Strat and lead vocals) to extemporise with great effect.

The first encore was Nothing At Best, a “put your gladrags on, we’re hitting the town” kind of song, followed by Snow Drops a slower paced song which gives the crowd a breather before ending with some nice melodic soloing from Bruce. The show ended with Light Up Your Eyes starting slowly and building to an anthemic end, another “stadium” moment. Bono & Edge, get outta da way! After nearly two hours of fine entertainment we stagger out into the buzzing surroundings of Camden Town and make our way home. A great evening was had by all.

If you get the chance, see the band on their current tour. They are also playing as support to Blackfield (one of Steve Wilson’s many side projects) for a few dates soon, so me and PW will be lucky enough to see them again in a couple of weeks. Bring it on!

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