Given that These New Puritans are responsible for one of the best albums of the decade, it’s pretty dispiriting to see
that the Belgrave Music Hall is barely over a third full for Friday night’s
gig. Perhaps it’s the six-year gap between albums that’s faded their profile
from the public’s consciousness, but considering that TNP were once prestigious
enough to be given the honour of performing their last record Field Of Reeds in full with
an orchestra at London’s Barbican back in 2014, it feels like something of a
demotion for them as they get the tour for their recently released fourth album
The Rose underway.
whirlwind of beats and effects that constitute the support slot from Vessel – a.k.a. Bristol-based musician
Seb Gainsborough – a gradually building bass whomp heralds the arrival of Jack
Barnett and his faithful collaborators. The first half of the set is built from
the prime cuts of their latest album – there’s something striking about the
sight of three musicians using drumsticks in synchronized manner on ‘Infinity
Vibraphones’. However, the percussive elements are given so much prominence on tracks
like ‘Into The Fire’ that Barnett’s voice often seems lost and flattened,
something that might be down to the context of their surroundings.
But when the
frontman suddenly announces “we’re going back in time”, the crowd connects a
bit more with These New Puritans. The big hitters from 2010’s masterpiece Hidden, like ‘We Want War’
and ‘Fire-Power’, get a great reception, while the ethereally beautiful ‘Organ
Eternal’ from Field Of Reeds even
gets a weird mosh-pit going. Returning for their encore, the punky thrash of ‘En
Papier’ from 2008’s debut album Beat Pyramid even gets an
airing, a song that betrays TNP’s origins as post-punk revivalists (albeit
extremely intelligent ones) way back then, before the predatory, pummelling
funk of ‘Attack Music’ brings their set to a close. Their status may be
somewhat diminished in 2019 after such a long time away, but These New Puritans
are still a great live draw – in the right setting.
Tags: Belgrave Music Hall, Ed Biggs, These New Puritans
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