A purple mist unfurls into the room, gradually dyeing the white canvas of Oval Space a darker hue. There’s a discernible suspense rising in the venue and the sense that anything could happen. It’s possibly due to the fact that the night so far has been somewhat unpredictable. Just moments ago, gazes are transfixed on Pumarosa vocalist Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s sister, Fernanda, who takes to the centre of the room to perform an intense, specially-choreographed dance sequence with her partner. Now, five outlines materialise in the eerie glow, indicating the arrival of the main attraction.
From ominous opener ‘Dragonfly’ to the head-spinning encore ‘My Gruesome Loving Friend’, the set is steeped in volatile moments. Theresa May-dedicated ‘Lion’s Den’ begins as a portentous piano ballad led by Isabel’s smoky vocal, before being engulfed by a frenzy of abrasive screeches and stuttering beats. The hypnotic groove of ‘Cecile’ follows, luring the audience into false pretence before showering them with a blizzard of sax-led noise. Their five-minute-plus shape shifting tracks make for a thrilling ride - even if they do leave you behind with every twist and turn.
The set takes a turn from older material to debut cuts from their forthcoming debut album ‘The Witch’. The title track showcases the more ritualistic side of their sound, providing Isabel with the opportunity to ditch her guitar and deliver dramatic performances. Unsurprisingly though, the most inspired performance comes courtesy of the band’s calling card track, ‘Priestess’. Between her dominating, record-perfect vocals and spirit-summoning dances, she’s bewitching. As she throws her arms towards us, commanding “You dance, you dance, you dance”, there’s not a single person in the room that can resist the charm of her spell.
Photos: Tim Easton