DVD REVIEW: THE PINEAPPLE THIEF – “Where We Stood”
2017 has been a very good year for prog with any number of big names putting out new material. And very soon England’s prog icon The Pineapple Thief will be releasing a live DVD titled ‘Where We Stood’ which will add yet another must-hear release to the year. The concert film captures the band on the final gig of their European tour for last year’s ‘Your Wilderness,’ featuring Gavin Harrison (King Crimson/ Porcupine Tree) on drums and Darran Charles (Godsticks) on guitar, both guest musicians from that album, and lead by guitarist/vocalist and band mastermind Bruce Soord. And the results are simply stunning.
The first thing that is clear upon viewing this DVD is that it is beautifully shot. The images are bright and clear. And what I think is even better: It actually stays on the musicians for several seconds before jumping to another angle. It’s a pet peeve of mine that so many live releases in recent years look like they were edited by someone with a serious case of ADHD and the shots are held for half a second at best. This concert, however, from the very beginning takes its time and focuses on the musicians and lets the viewer watch their hands as they play and how they use their instruments, which is a good deal of the fun and draw to watching a band play live. The second thing that was abundantly clear was that the film sounds fantastic. The audio quality is exceptional, which isn’t surprising because Bruce is known for his mixes almost as much as he is for his music. The more elaborate versions of the DVD will include multiple mixes of the show, so any audiophile should more than get their money’s worth.
The film begins with the one two punch of “Tear You Up” and “The One You Left To Die” both of which quickly show themselves to be ideal ways to open up a show. Though both have plenty of quiet moments, they quickly build in intensity and volume and really draw the viewer in. I’m not a huge fan of the band, much more of a casual fan, but I think they show in these two songs alone, that with this lineup they are an exceptionally good live band. Indeed, after watching this and going back and listening through the albums that I have, I think they’re one of those rare bands which are considerably better live than they are in the studio. The audience seems to get into it as well, but by and large crowd interaction takes a back seat in this film.
The film then goes directly into a brief interview with Bruce. In this case the origin of the band name is discussed. I’d long been curious about the strange name (though never took the time to look into it), so knowing the answer is quite nice. However the interview breaks up the momentum of the show, which I do not care for. This is followed by the tremendously engaging “No Man’s Land,” but before long there is another interview. And this sets the way the entire film is set up. The band plays a couple of songs, and then there is an interview. This is really quite a shame, because concerts are so often an immersive experience and a good band can do the same on a DVD. The Pineapple Thief is a very good band and I found myself frequently drawn into the show. But every time I did so, I was brought back out by another interview snippet being inserted. The interviews are all interesting, but I think they would have been much better served by standing on their own as a bonus feature, and to simply have shown the entire show without interruptions every few minutes.
The concert progresses through the band playing all but one track from their most recent album, and select tracks from earlier albums, including live favorite “Snowdrops” and “Nothing At Best” to close out the show. They remain very tight throughout, and you wouldn’t know that Gavin and Darran aren’t consistent members of the band. Unsurprisingly Gavin adds a new dimension to older songs, both in power but also a jazzy subtlety that only someone of his caliber can bring to music. The key work of Steve Kitch is never overbearing but adds just the right touch to the music, and the interplay between Gavin and bassist Jon Sykes is exquisite. The band unfortunately never came near my part of the world on their last tour; after watching this concert so many times I know that it will certainly be worth traveling if they ever do.
The version I received includes a 14 minute behind the scenes documentary, however the more deluxe versions include considerably more, which will surely be of interest to fans. The interviews and bits of behind the scene footage were interesting, but not anything I would watch every time I viewed the concert. Like most such things, once you see it a couple times you get it. I do wish the interviews inserted into the concert had been included here instead, as both they, and the music, would have been better served by it.
‘Where We Stood’ is as fine a shot and recorded capture of a live band as any I have seen. The issues mentioned previously are minor and in no way spoil my enjoyment of the concert itself. Long time fans of The Pineapple Thief, especially those who didn’t get to see this tour in person, should be very pleased with this release and run to acquire it. And casual fans, along with anyone curious about them, should consider this a must have as well. For anyone looking for a perfect introduction to their music and what makes them special I would direct them to the CD/DVD combo. Highly recommended.