Bruce Soord – Lockdown gig from the studio 2 May 2020
by Pete Clemons
The pineapple Thief guitarist and chief songwriter, Bruce Soord, has always come across as a charming and affable kind of guy and his songs equally as compelling. There is never any cynicism in the words, no nastiness., Bruce seems to just simply write about what he cares about.
And clearly he cares about his band and his audience as he treated us to the most wonderful private and intimate acoustic session on Saturday evening. It was clearly a strange experience all round. There was Bruce, alone in his studio, trying to get his head into a position where he would normally have a sea of faces in front of him. And there were us, staring at him, from our phones or laptops.
After a few takes, plugs engaged and buttons pushed, he began with 'Shoot First', his debut song for his K. Scope label in 2008, and the opening track from the album 'Tightly Unwound'.
While setting up for the next tune Bruce revealed that he is a self taught guitarist, taking up the instrument as a 14 year old learning his craft from a Bert Weedon 'play in a day' book. He does admit to having a few bad habits though.
After setting up a looper pedal, 'Willow Tree' followed. A song about a particularly special tree. Bruce admitted that being alone in his studio was a strange affair. And, this seemed to reset his mind onto the current situation as he romanticised about the simple pleasure of being able to get into record shops again and suchlike.
After resetting the looper pedal Bruce then played a truncated version of 'Part Zero'. And given the flood of comments it clearly delighted the audience which, by now, was swelling up towards the 1000 mark.
A question about his songwriting prompted an answer along the lines that there was no strict process as such. It's an organic kind of thing. He starts with the germ of an idea and simply sees where his finger take him.
For the introduction of the next song, 'No Man's Land', Bruce explained that it is a tricky piece and has sometimes made a mistake when performing it with his band. If he hears drummer Gavin Harrison ting a bell then he knows he has errored.
I personally know nothing very little about music and despite being at the birth of it, I never realised that the next song, 'Snowdrops', was in 6/8 time. Again a looper was deployed as was a shaker. So visual were the effects of this song you could almost hear the clapping from the attentive crowd on this side of the screen.
Another question followed, this time about further collaborations with Jonas Renkse. This brought the response that Jonas was, currently, extremely busy. However, as Bruce continued, his door was always open. Jonas just needed to turn up at the studio – never say never is the watchword there.
A further question prompted Bruce to admit that, as a schoolboy, he was different from the norm. While everyone was into Duran Duran he was listening to Alan Parsons and such like. Additionally he confessed that nowadays, and given advances in technology, the production of Alan Parsons music could be classed as light and easy. But he still found the construction of guitar solo's by the likes of Ian Bairnson and Camel's Andy Latimer to be magical. Guitar solos don't just happen and those guys have that special something that can create them.
To wrap things up Bruce introduced a baritone guitar and set about an incredible version of 'The Final Thing on my Mind' complete with the most compelling of improvisation. This included the use of looper pedal, shaker and both acoustic and electric guitars. From this side of the laptop you could almost hear the gasps of delight.
Other answers to questions, that spring to mind, had Bruce thinking back to early gigs at venues like the late lamented Orange Box in Yeovil. He also admitted feeling for other artists who had had to cancel tours due to this virus and how fortunate he felt having successfully completed the last Pineapple Thief tour. The pain of suddenly having your income drop straight off a cliff was unimaginable.
All in all this had been a masterclass and an incredibly uplifting hour and a quarter. It was a wonderful gesture and great display in artistry. And huge thanks go to both Bruce and his assistant. And to echo Bruce's final words before signing off, perhaps next time we could even venture out of our living rooms and do this for real. Lets hope this is possible sooner rather than later.