The Pineapple Thief & Godsticks, Bristol Bierkeller
On a day when it appeared that the motorway gods had conspired to cause abject misery to the network around South Wales and the Bristol area, a little light was shed with super performances by two of the U. K’s most progressive rock bands.
I’m ashamed to say that I was only very peripherally aware of Cardiff outfit Godsticks (8), despite them having released several albums and almost ten years of existence. Their dark and muscular progressive rock is now most definitely on my radar and their excellent new release Faced With Rage is already a favourite this year. The band curtailed their set slightly due to the traffic issues but managed to show their quality with three new songs from Faced With Rage as well as some older favourites including the riff heavy skull pummelling of Exit Stage Right from 2015’s Emergence. The last night of the tour allowed the band to perform in a relaxed mode but they were also sharp as a razor, clearly brimming with confidence. Singer and guitarist Darran Charles impressed with his clear voice, sweet fret work and typical Cardiffian humour, whilst Gavin Bushell’s lead work was simply outstanding.
With Charles swapping frontman duties for lead guitar, it was time for Somerset’s Bruce Soord and The Pineapple Thief (9). With the drum stool occupied by Porcupine Tree (amongst many other) drummer Gavin Harrison, there was no concern about the quality of the underlying beat, and this was anchored fabulously by long-standing bassist Jon Sykes. Steve Kitch’s unassuming synths and keyboards (not to mention two iMacs!) added depth and texture. Unsurprisingly the set list focused heavily on material from last year’s excellent Your Wilderness record, with every track being played. A smattering of tracks from the band’s extensive back catalogue ensured that old school fans were well catered for, but in all honesty, such is the quality with this outfit and Soord’s song-writing that it doesn’t really matter what they played.
At times, the band rocked out with the best of them, whilst the softer tracks such as In Exile and The Final Thing On My Mind just highlighted what great musicians the band are. Soord is an engaging frontman, quiet, unassuming but with a lovely dry wit. Content to let Charles take lead duties for most of the evening, at times he just had to let rip with the odd blistering solo. This was an evening to sit back and let the music do the talking, the quality and strength of the compositions enveloping the audience in a relatively full venue. Over 20 years in the business, The Pineapple Thief and Soord remain one of those great hidden treasures. Will they ever gain wider recognition? Highly unlikely but in some respects, that’s a plus for those of us who love music in smaller venues. A superb evening from two stunningly excellent bands.