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Assembly, Leamington, 6 April 2011

Blackfield, photo by Andrew Lock

Two examples of modern progressive rock at its best at The Assembly, first up The Pineapple Thief with a high octane set of power prog, the bands 40 minute set mainly showcased their latest album Someone Here Is Missing with just one track from their back catalogue, standouts from the new album included the two opening rockers 'Wake Up the Dead' and the gloriously heavy '3000 Days' and they closed their part of the evening by going back to the Tightly Unwound album from 2008 with the atmosphric 'Too Much To Lose'.

Pineapple Thief, photo by Andrew Lock

I was very impressed with The Pineapple Thief, a talented band with plenty of energy, and a highlight for me was the excellent and imaginative slide guitar work of band founder, singer/guitarist Bruce Soord who is also both an excellent front man and a superb showman.

Headliners Blackfield are a band that anyone with the preconceived notion that progressive rock is all about 20 minute tracks played by men in capes really need to have a listen to, the band is the magical collaboration of Steven Wilson the founder member of Porcupine Tree and Aviv Geffen an Israeli singer/songwriter, and all round musical superstar in his own country.

Their three albums are full of superbly crafted 3 - 4 minute numbers full to the brim with great hooks, beautiful melodies and harmonies, with at times a pop touch but also have the thought provoking lyrics of great prog rock and the material covers both sides of the rock spectrum, up-tempo guitar driven and delicate ballad.

This was my first live experience of Blackfield and they reproduced the studio quality of their albums perfectly, if anything, only making the numbers more dynamic on the stage and by the look of the excellent turn out at the Assembly they also have an excellent fan base.

Blackfield, photo by Andrew Lock
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Blackfield also have a new album to promote, the excellent Welcome To My DNA and tonight they played all but one of the tracks opening the set with the eastern feel of 'Blood' from the new album followed by 'Blackfield' from the bands 2004 self titled debut.

One of the benefits of the band's songs being relatively short is they can perform a large selection of numbers from both the current album and the two previous releases, highlights from the latest work a laid back 'Glass House' with some sublime guitar flourishes from Mr Wilson, the summer acoustic vibe of 'Waving'. and 'On the Plane' written by Aviv Geffen for his father.

Blackfield, photo by Andrew Lock

The track that completely blew me away was the performance of 'Once' the opening number from the 2007 album Blackfield II, a track that is 4 minutes of pure musical brilliance, starting with heavy tribal like drumming this song really has it all, drop dead gorgeous harmony vocals in the verses with echoes of The Beatles and ELO.

It then explodes into life for the chorus, with rocked up indie/punk style guitar work, and I've not stopped playing it since the gig (magnificent on the album, stunning live). From the same excellent album they they also performed a beautiful 'Miss U', and the catchy 'Where is My Love?'

Towards the end of the set, and for the encores, amazing cones of light cascaded down onto the band from the lighting rig, a fantastic effect only adding to the drama of the encores 'Hello' from their debut album and the magnificently melancholic and haunting 'End of the World' which seamlessly merged into the powerful final number 'Cloudy Now'.

The voices of both Steve Wilson and Aviv Geffen gel perfectly during the harmonies and both have outstanding voices in their own right with a plenty of swapping of the lead vocals between numbers as we all know from the work of Porcupine Tree, Steve is a top draw guitar player and multi instrumentalist Aviv showed his skill on both guitar and keyboards during the performance, the other musicians in Blackfield are also top quality throughout.

Yet another in a long list of outstanding rock gigs at The Assembly.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

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