The Pineapple Thief have just released Nothing But the Truth, their latest live recording of the show they had been planning to play to accompany the release of their 2020 album Versions of the Truth, but which for obvious reasons was not possible at the time. They decided to do the show anyway in April 2021 via an on demand live event, with director George Laycock capturing them in high definition video and 5.1 audio. This is not your usual ‘live’ album as there is no audience, allowing the band and director to stage the performance in a coolly cinematic presentation with intimate close-ups and perfect audio and visual imagery. The band has never looked or sounded so good.
I have to confess to being a rather long-time follower of the band (i.e. ‘fanboy!’), and remember seeing raw early shows of The Pineapple Thief in sometimes sparsely populated venues in the Southwest of England from 2004. It was clear to me, raw and inexperienced as they were in those days, that there was something rather special about the band, particularly their talented but rather reticent main songwriter and front man, Brue Soord. Therefore, it is so pleasing to see how they have become very successful with tours around Europe and North America. Joining up with ex-Porcupine Tree and current King Crimson drummer Gavin Harrison for their 2016 album Your Wilderness certainly helped propel them to greater recognition, and Harrison has taken a much more active role in the song writing process for their two most recent albums, Dissolution and Versions of the Truth. Needless to say, Harrison’s exemplary skills in concert have also greatly impacted on the whole band, driving them on to very high levels of polished professionalism on stage. Nothing But the Truth exposes the band to unprecedented levels of close scrutiny, and they are not found wanting in this set. Bruce Soord explained the thinking behind Nothing But the Truth:
“The Pineapple Thief is equally about the studio and the stage, so it was hugely disappointing that we were unable to tour, especially as we were excited to be able to perform the new album Versions of the Truth live for everyone. Being able to do this film, especially under the circumstances, was invaluable. It was such an alien time and an alien thing to do. Yes, we had all performed in front of cameras before, but this was different… We were playing a brand-new set, one time only, to stream to every corner of the globe, standing in a circle on our little islands with cameras everywhere. The pressure was on. We simply had to nail it!”
The setlist is largely drawn from their last three albums with Gavin Harrison. Understandably, songs from Versions of the Truth feature strongly with no less than six included, the restrained menace and more explosive passages of the opening title track standing out. Our Mire shines in a live setting and is a real showcase for Gavin’s skilful drumming across its changing tempos and extended sections. In addition to the main songs from Versions of the Truth, The Pineapple Thief present one of the ‘bonus’ songs from the album’s special edition, so many listeners may not have already heard The Swell – and like myself may be wondering why such a gem of a song was consigned to the ‘bonus’ section.
The 2018 album Dissolution is represented with four songs, most notably the extended and impressive White Mist and the excellent Uncovering Your Tracks, featuring some weirdly distorted guitar histrionics from Soord. Somewhat surprisingly, The Pineapple Thief do not play anything from the underappreciated 2014 album Magnolia (which may deserve some re-appraising?). However, they do go back to 2012’s All the Wars for three songs, and it is great to hear Someone Pull Me Out and Warm Seas dusted off and given a well-deserved airing. I was particularly pleased to hear Build A World from that album (and later released as an EP in 2013), with Steve Kitch’s fine keyboard textures taking me right back to seeing them in The Quicksilver Mail pub in Yeovil, Somerset in 2013 – how fortunes and venues have changed!
The real surprise and ‘deep cut’ track from way back in their extensive discography is Wretched Soul which harks back to 2005’s 10 Stories Down and I do not think I have heard live since about 2005 at the album launch event in the illustrious surroundings of… Yeovil Ski Centre (!!) – like I said, things have certainly moved on a great deal for this band. Apparently, we can thank Gavin Harrison for the resurrection of this dark song, which Bruce growls out initially – Harrison was listening to their back catalogue looking for songs to bring into the live set, and he liked it so much he suggested reintroducing it into the set with his own rhythmic and arrangement ideas. Harrison and the band breathe new life into this half-forgotten gem from the distant past. Let’s hope Gavin does some more musical archaeological excavations into The Pineapple Thief’s distant past if the results sound as good as this reborn song, which you can tell the band loved playing live. George Marios joined them for this live show on shimmering and sometimes freakish guitar.
The performance closes with the epic sounding The Final Thing on My Mind from 2016 album Your Wilderness, which curiously only has two songs on this release… but when one of them is this magnificent and chilling piece then there can really be no complaints. Soord is in fine form vocally, with Jon Sykes locking in magnificently on bass with his illustrious partner in the rhythm section in the avalanche of a finale. Indeed, the whole band are in excellent form for this impressive closing number, as they have been for the whole performance.
Nothing But the Truth is also available in Blu-Ray/DVD, Soord explaining their thinking behind the high quality special visual presentation: “We all knew we did not want to shoot a film of us standing on stage staring at an empty room. We wanted something special, something ‘cinematic’ so we have created something unique and something very, very special that I am proud to have been a part of. I can’t wait for people to see and hear it.”
Nothing But the Truth does look coolly impressive in its staging and performance – this is not a conventional ‘live’ show, more an intense visual study of fine musicians performing with skill and precision, with Soord and Harrison particularly hypnotic in how they present their music live.
This set is clearly designed for fans, who will be fascinated by the close scrutiny of their heroes, but for those unfamiliar with The Pineapple Thief, particularly in their latter day incarnation and development as a post-progressive band with drum legend Gavin Harrison, then Nothing But the Truth would be a good starting point… and that’s the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth!
01. Versions of the Truth (5:39)
02. In Exile (4:59)
03. Warm Seas (4:00)
04. Our Mire (7:17)
05. Build A World (3:40)
06. Demons (4:33)
07. Driving Like Maniacs (3:29)
08. Someone Pull Me Out (4:00)
09. Uncovering Your Tracks (4:26)
10. Break It All (4:28)
Time – 46:31
01. White Mist (9:46)
02. Out of Line (3:56)
03. Wretched Soul (5:21)
04. Far Below (4:33)
05. Threatening War (6:37)
06. The Swell (4:14)
07. The Final Thing on My Mind (9:42)
Time – 44:09
Total Time – 90:40
Bruce Soord – Vocals, Guitars
Gavin Harrison – Drums, Percussion
Jon Sykes – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Kitch – Keyboards
George Marios – Guitars
Record Label: Kscope
Formats: Deluxe 4-disc hardback book containing: Blu-ray (Audio – Hi-res Stereo/DTS-HD MA 5.1/Dolby Atmos), DVD (Audio – Hi-res Stereo/DTS 5.1) [both including a dedicated Gavin Harrison ‘drumcam’ option & four bonus songs not seen on the streamed event], two CDs (audio)
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 22nd October 2021 | 12th November 2021 (North America)
• Abducting the Unicorn (1999)
• 137 (2001)
• Variations on A Dream (2003)
• 10 Stories Down (2005)
• Little Man (2006)
• What We Have Sown (2007)
• Tightly Wound (2008)
• 3000 Days (2009) [Compilation]
• Someone Here is Missing (2010)
• All the Wars (2012)
• Magnolia (2014)
• Your Wilderness (2016)
• Dissolution (2018)
• Versions Of The Truth