Live Review

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart + Yuck, Heaven, London

You can almost feel the crowd physically swooning.

In 1987, Belinda Carlisle informed pop pickers worldwide that ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ and that in Heaven, should you listen to rumours, “love comes first”. Tonight we’re both proving and disproving her theory, indeed, Heaven is on earth, it’s a venue just round the corner from Charing Cross tube station, but we’re here primarily to ‘Say No To Love’, and celebrate the new single from Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Stick that, Carlisle.

First up, the inappropriately named Yuck; to be clear, there is little about this band that would make their own moniker cross your lips. In a testament to the buzz that surrounds them, Heaven is filling up for their early (8pm) set. Formed from the ashes of Cajun Dance Party, the last thing anyone expected is the love child of J. Mascis and Thurston Moore, but that’s what appears to have happened, and so tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1991.

So far, so brilliant. Sadly, there is no Ilana on vocals tonight (which is a shame, as it’s the school holidays, there was hope), which in turn means no ‘Georgia’, but it’s a disappointment that Yuck ultimately overcome with the perfect blend of shoegazey guitars and loud feedback. It’s not necessarily a bad thing when a band is a bit derivative, but Yuck do need to exercise a bit of caution. One track in particular steers dangerously close to Sonic Youth’s ‘Teenage Riot’ – perhaps indicating ‘Daydream Nation’ has lingered perhaps a little too long on their record players. Yuck are a band with all the components of something very special indeed, but tonight it feels like they’re looking for their own voice (rather than Stephen Malkmus’), and when they find it, they’ll be fantastic. They leave the crowd wanting more, and there is an audible sigh of disappointment when they announce that, after a mere twenty or so minutes, they’re done for the night.

Heaven is now brilliantly hot and sticky, Carlisle never warned us about this. It’s also packed to the rafters, tangible proof that it is indeed the right time for Pains to upgrade to bigger venues. We’re quickly treated to the delights of the debut album, within the first few songs, we’re dancing to ‘Young Adult Friction’, followed closely by ‘This Love is Fucking Right!’, in which Kip and Peggy softly swear in harmony, reminiscent of a sweet old aunt offering us tea and biscuits.

The sound man quickly becomes a hero, because it’s loud, really loud, just as it should be, and you can almost feel the crowd physically swooning. But whether it’s the pressure of the night, the monitors have gone, or something more technical that I understand very little about, halfway through the set, a niggling little doubt sets in, until it’s abundantly obvious and there’s no denying it. Kip, our indie boy crush for the night, is slightly off key…

Thankfully, whatever the problem is, it’s short-lived and he pulls it back, and the new single continues the precedence set by the ‘Higher Than The Stars’ EP, leaving us with no insecurities about the ‘difficult second album’ syndrome. The eponymous single from their self released EP, with it’s refrain of ‘we will never die’ is, as always, a slice of indie pop joy, but perhaps the standout song of the night is ‘Everything With You’, which is just perfection.

If the old adage ‘always leave them wanting more’ were ever more applicable, you’d be hard pushed to find a better example, as the encore comes around frightening quickly. In all, there has only about an hour and a half of music, almost certainly less, but despite it’s imperfections, it’s been great. We filter out into the night, (which has indeed “fallen down”, thanks Belinda), ears ringing and giddy in the knowledge there is still time to toast our American friends with a swift bottle of Bud’ in a local drinking establishment, before last orders.

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