It's a rare event when the opening act possesses a musical pedigree that most bands can only dream of.
With Pat Mastelotto, drummer for the last 25 years with King Crimson and founding member of Broken Wings hitmakers Mr. Mister, and Colin Edwin, bassist with Porcupine Tree, it was no surprise that avant-garde progressive rockers Ork pulled in a sizeable crowd to see their early set at the O2 Academy in Newcastle on Wednesday night.
With Kneel To Nothing and the intricate Black Blooms, which featured a dynamic dual vocal between Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari and guitarist Carmelo Pipitone, Ork created a unique sonic soundscape that kept the crowd transfixed to the final note.
For more than 20 years, The Pineapple Thief have released a steady stream of high quality modern prog rock albums, but have tended to tour only sporadically, so this was a rare chance to catch the band, and one not to be missed.
Their latest album, Dissolution, has been hailed as their best yet and the critics are certainly right this time, as no fewer than six songs were aired over the course of the evening, including Far Below, White Mist and the exquisite Threatening War
Led by guitarist/vocalist Bruce Soord, The Pineapple Thief delivered a set of beautifully constructed, atmospheric music built on sublime melodies and Soord's aching, heartfelt vocals, which were particularly effective when weaved together with those of bassist Jon Sykes on the likes of That Shore to create shiver-inducing harmonies.
Drummer Gavin Harrison, also of King Crimson and Porcupine Tree, was a revelation. His intricate fills and complex patterns were a show in itself, and it was clear why he's endorsed by the likes of Neil Peart from Rush.
It was not all overly serious, however. When first-night-of-the-tour gremlins struck in the encores, Harrison stepped from behind his kit and did a magic trick, much to the joy of the crowd.
Snow Drops featured a sparse vocal harmony between Soord and Sykes, and with only an acoustic guitar as accompaniment, it was stark, vulnerable and utterly beautiful.
Conversely, show closer The Final Thing On My Mind, with its slow-building hypnotic rhythm, was sinister in mood and epic in scope.