Friday, 25 March 2016

Purson Live at the Cavern, Exeter, 24th March, 2016 - gig review

No Mystique on the Night, Just Consummate Rock

The band Purson has a lively genre persona if you search them out online: most simply referred to as a psychedelic rock band; or cryptically as vaudeville carny psyche, a quote from leader Rosalie Cunningham, but toying with those who want to label the music, and more tomfoolery on Facebook with Big Psyche, Facemelter, Fuzz Wowwowpopsong and other. I've done my own labeling when reviewing their recorded music, searching out the prog and psychedelic folk influences in an inevitable hearing from the past, a referencing that must grate for a band firmly playing in the moment. But as I've said, they join in the searching and disorientation, including the playful androgyny in some group photos, and it all adds to the engaging mystique, but on last night's live performance there is really no mystery to this stonkin' band: they play consummate rock.

What a powerful, tight performance. The Cavern is an intimate cellar with a claustrophobic stage, and Purson rocked it from start to finish with consistently fine playing and the focus was all on the music rather than the environs - as pleasant as it was last night with an untypical lack of sweltering heat. Rosie Cunningham's vocal is glorious, on record and even more-so live, and this with her songwriting - the entirety of the imminent second release Desire's Magic Theatre - reflect a significant talent. Add to this the fact she is an accomplished guitarist: her interplay and tandem runs with fellow fine guitarist George Hudson are brilliant live, as were each others solo spots. Sam Shore on keyboards was a stillpoint of calm control at last night's gig, his contributions less evident in the thunder of the live show compared with notable swirls and pumps and layers on record. The pulsing engine-room of the band is provided by Raphael Mura on dynamic drums and Justin Smith on astonishingly fluent yet pounding bass. As I said, on the night they are an impressive rock outfit.

It was great to enter the magic theatre from the off, Rosalie immediately into her peerless singing stride with the title track from the forthcoming album. We heard other cuts from this, including recent-ish single Electric Landlady, and The Window Cleaner. From debut album The Circle and The Blue Door we had a rousing delivery of Well Spoiled Machine, but highlight of the night for me, knowing this album well, was the performance of Spiderwoof Farm that then segued into the superb Leaning on a Bear, two riff-rich gems - and throughout the night, wowwownotpopsong guitar playing, so much by Cunningham, delivered the psychedelic edge.

Those at the Plymouth gig tonight are in for the same treat, and if you haven't got your tickets yet for the rest of the tour, I do recommend you should.

I've pre-ordered my copy of Desire's Magic Theatre and look forward to hearing and reviewing. Get it here. Find my other reviews of the band's work here.

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