Live Review

Purity Ring, Scala, London

Megan has stage-presence alright - it’s impossible to take your eyes off her.

It’s a miserable, drizzly night in Kings Cross, but the air is abuzz with excitement. The doors have barely been open five minutes, but inside a sold out Scala, people are already taking up perches, guarding their places in front of the low, barrierless stage. They are wise to do so. Purity Ring have produced one of the finest electronic debuts of the year - and we’ll be betting this is going to be one of the final opportunities to see them live in a venue this intimate.

Fellow Canadians Doldrums kick off proceedings, and we can’t quite make up our minds whether we find them weirdly captivating or profoundly annoying. It’s sort of like an art school student has dreamt up a magnificent performance piece – a malaise of experimental sound complete with old record players - but it is just too unpolished, at this stage, for the audience to really ‘get it’. “I’m over the edge”, cries Airick Woodhead, brandishing a coffee cup; just as his drummer’s soundpad topples over and nearly takes out at least two bystanders. At times the sound system is suffocated by the sonic chaos; when Doldrums shine is where they allow the melodies to come forward and morph in to utterly bizarre pop hooks. Jam-packed with strange and wonderful grooves, Doldrums are certainly of the avant garde persuasion, and also have potential in the bucketloads. You only have to give a cursory listen to their latest EP, ‘Egypt’, to hear them in a more polished state – give Doldrums two years and their live show will be incredible too. Right now though? Something is slightly lacking.

Being on tour with Purity Ring will no doubt give Doldrums the extra finesse they need, though, because Megan James and Corin Roddick are already veterans after just under a year of blogosphere frenzy. Managing to translate the alluringly creepy essence of ‘Shrines’ to the stage, Megan floats around the stage wielding a spooky handheld torch surrounded by a wire cage. She looks so intense when she whacks her light-up bass drum, that at one point we are complete scaredy cats, and utter an almost inaudible wimper. Roddick, meanwhile, plays the role of electronic prodigy – giving the live show the sub-bass thrust that it needs.

Megan has stage-presence alright, and it’s impossible to take your eyes off her, whether she’s sat down swigging from a whiskey bottle, or joining Corin in playing out melodies on the light-up orbs that surround him. There’s no thrashing around, no toppling equipment, no microphone stands being picked up theatrically. All that extra ornate extravagance is unneeded, and from underneath the multicolored canopy of catkins hanging above, it does feel, to drag out the massive cliché, like she is singing directly and only to us.

“We’ve only got three more songs” says Megan, all too soon, and the room rings with sounds of disappointment. “No, I mean, we literally only have three left” she laughs. Many bands have the luxury of multiple albums to pick from, but Purity Ring, with just 11 songs to feed from, still feel as if they are constructing perfection in a setlist. The beauty of the album was how it blurred into one coherent vision, whilst each and every song stood up alone with inspired pop-leanings and contagious melody. Being produced live in intensive real-time using Corin’s ingenious array of sound-decks and programmable light up orbs, Purity Ring do not simply do ‘Shrines’ justice. They surpass it, and are utterly captivating.

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