Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Live Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart & support @ The Queens Social Club, Sheffield

I’ve decided that I like The Queens Social Club. Well, team KPL wouldn’t be back there otherwise.

Actually that’s a lie. For this line-up of course we bloody would! Drowned in Sound Events have excelled themselves again in managing to get a decent size act to come through Sheffield when far too many are bypassing in favour of Leeds. But hey, if we can see The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in a decent venue as opposed to a shite one, then all the better.

Opening for The Pains, and taking to the stage at the mega-early time of quarter to eight, is a brand-spanking-new band called Milkteeth. The five-piece are actually the reason why we’ve got to the venue so early. Their frontman is none other than former Long Blondes guitarist/songwriter Dorian Cox – a chap responsible for writing the majority of one of KPL’s all-time favourite records.

Although having taken a completely different angle to his former band, Milkteeth still manage to utterly delight. The Fall are clearly a massive influence on their sound, but rather than taking the aggressive route of the similarly inspired The Neat, Milkteeth take the repetition and mumbling and add their own distinct spin. Like Mark E Smith re-editing the early Pulp records, vocals are mumbled and keyboards set a desolate and eerie view of Sheffield. There’s the feel that perhaps Dorian still isn’t fully used to his frontman role, but regardless, Milkteeth are definitely ones to watch.

Unlike the second support, whose Kings of Leon meets Glasvegas stadium reaching rock would be tolerable if not for the bad vocals. On the crescendos the guitars manage more bite than the above description may let you believe, but the overall impression of Nerves isn’t a positive one.

Fanzine are better. Much better. Combining influences as ‘diverse’ as Weezer and Pavement they deliver a set full of killer grungey slacker pop hits. Seeing as my feet barely stopped tapping it’s probably only fair that we give Stagecoach plenty of warning: Watch your backs boys – there’s competition!

It’s only when The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart take to the stage that the house lights finally go down. With the stage lights shimmering off the pink tinsel backdrop they get us going with ‘Belong’. It’s a long-held belief at KPL Towers that if a song’s good enough to open yr latest record then it’s good enough to open yr shows. And so the title track from the group’s excellent second album sounds every bit as distorted, melodic, magic and crunching as it does on record.

The PoBP@H are one of those groups that you don’t realise have quiet that many indiepop smashes until you encounter them in the live arena. ‘Say No To Love’, ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ and ‘The Body’ dominate the second-album heavy first segment of the set. Peggy Wang is a sheet of dark black hair behind her keyboard stand, whist Kyp Bergman and leads his fellow guitar player Christoph and bassist Alex in wrestling walls of noise and melody out of their instruments.

The band having drawn a crowd with a slightly older average age than one might expect means that the audience at the Queens is somewhat subdued throughout. Whether it’s this feeding Kyps aggression into his guitar or whether there are technical issues we can’t say, but he doesn’t seem massively happy. Still the crowd are certainly enjoying the show. There’s loud cheers and masses of applause after every track – especially The Pains best known song ‘Young Adult Friction’.

Coming back on for the encore Bergman thanks the crowd for coming out and gives a shout to the many excellent bands that the Steel City has produced over the decades, “we suck much more than they do” he announced apologetically. And whilst it may be true that The Pains of Being Pure At Heart aren’t as good as Pulp, it’s worth remembering that Sheffield has also produced bands of the calibre of Milburn and Little Man Tate – and I’m sure that we can all appreciate that they suck much more than The Pains ever will.

Anyway, it’s just Kyp and his guitar for ‘Contender’, a song which proves to be an all out highlight of the evening. His bandmates return afterward though, and conclude a rather excellent evening with ‘Too Tough’. There’s few bands with melodic chops as refined as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart right now and with two classic indiepop records under their belt we can’t help but think that they’re a bona-fide radio hit away from breaking out and becoming a much wider success. On the basis of tonight’s performance they could slay much larger venues than this Working Men’s Club.


Phil Dodds said...

I must admit I'm slightly surprised you saw the gig that way - personally, I've rarely if ever been to a gig with more animosity between band and audience. The audience was pretty poor, quiet and, as you say, on the old side. But TPOBPAH, and the singer in particular, really didn't help things by tuning up silently for a minute or so after almost every (2 minute) song.

The sound quality was poor, and I'm not sure if the guys on stage realised that, because they were really struggling to communicate with the audience who were, on the whole, eager and receptive if lacking in vigour and drunkenness. You neglect to mention the slightly ratty comments like "sorry we're keeping you awake," and implying that the crowd weren't particularly going for it because they weren't watching a local band. I thought it was a decent set, but it felt a little nonchalant, and, at £15 a ticket with some fairly poor support acts, blaming the audience rather than themselves for the gig's failure to spark into life just seemed a little unprofessional.

Lee said...

Good points there Phil.

Didn't mean to imply that the lack of atmosphere was entirely the fault of the audience.

Completely agree that the silence between songs didn't help matters at all, and I'm afraid that whilst writing the review it completely slipped my mind.

Still, thanks for commenting. Great to hear another perspective - especially on the 'local band' comment, which I felt was an attempt at humour rather than a dig