Live Review

These New Puritans, Heaven, London

The two long-players which form the material in this live set work incredibly well together.

There are seven people due on stage tonight for These New Puritans’ performance at Heaven and perhaps disappointingly, not one of them is a Harrier hawk. Though the guest appearance of a bird on their most recent album - ‘Field Of Reeds’ – has been a topical point of interest, These New Puritans’ eccentricities contribute significantly towards them being one of the most forward-thinking acts around today. And with Jack Barnett’s refusal to rely on laptops and gadgetry to ease the burdens of their complex live performances, they’re doing it the hard way too.

No such technical restrictions would be imposed on tonight’s one-man support act. Electronic wonder-kid, East India Youth – real name William Doyle - begins proceedings on a soundsystem that aptly suits his style. As his sub-bass sonic textures grow to dwarf the rumbles of the Northern line underground trains passing deep below the venue, not one of his delicate atmospheric samples is lost. It’s evident Doyle’s enjoying it too, as he rocks-out with bass guitar in hand and croons lavishly over the microphone.

As the beats, bleeps and velvet voice of Doyle’s one man show fades, anticipation grows towards the main event. These New Puritans – now a three piece at their core – enter the stage joined by two-piece brass section, pianist and additional vocalist. The sound meanders for a time through the initial phases, before being brought into focus by the discordant crashes of ‘V (Island Song)’ – one of many highlights from their third record – and most recent single, ‘Fragment Two’. These two songs are case-in-point that These New Puritans cannot be labelled as simply an experimental, art-rock band; both of these tracks are filled with heart and emotion. In the same way as with the world’s most revered artists, it’s the coming together of experimentation and fresh ideas on one hand and evocative and instinctive moods on the other, that truly resonates with their audience.

Things take a brutal turn as the drum heavy, doom-laden sounds of second album, ‘Hidden’, make up the middle section of the set. By this time, the crowd is fully engaged with their noise and each track-ending meets rapturous appreciation. The two long-players which form the material in this live set work incredibly well together. ‘Hidden’ is the thrust behind it, ‘Field Of Reeds’ provides the contrasting softer moments – both are equally as welcome to the Heaven crowd.

To close, the title track from their latest album sends the revellers out into the streets of London, knowing that they’ve witnessed something special; a band at the top of their game, with fresh ideas and the ability to make beautifully moving music.

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