Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / The Loves / The Draculas – 15 May 2009, The Lexington

7.30 at the Lex and lo! already there is a queue of people anxious to get hold of the last remaining tickets on the door. Right at the front is our olde friende Trev. He’s been here since 5pm. This is his first Pains Of Being Pure At Heart gig (not counting today’s Pure Groove instore), but he’s going to three others ‘making up for lost time’. There seem to be plenty of folks making up for lost time tonight, the place is noticeably busier than when last the Pains played. The audience is younger too, the kidz finally cottoning onto the buzz that was getting their elders all excited this time last year. This means there’s no 30-something moshpit tonight. In fact there’s no moshpit at all, the kids being content to nod along happily, maybe for fear of disturbing their st, st, st Studioline hair.

The Draculas include Patrick (rattling good drumbeats) and Roxanne (Peter Pan collar, big red guitar) who used to be in The Royal We and Sexy Kids. They have good fringes and sound tres olde schoole indie-poppe. At first they make me think of Esmerelda’s Kite (yes), jangly, fizzy, cutesy, although this might be because E.K. had a song called ‘Vampire Girl’. Then they play a song that seems to have the guitar riff from The Primitives’ ‘Thru The Flowers’. Which is always nice. I especially enjoy Patrick’s thumperific drumming, complete with tambourine taped to the top of the tom. Old school, you see. They improve as the set progresses, ending with a fuzzy, blurry rumbling kind of song…

Swizz! We were promised Simon Love in a cape. We thought it might herald The Loves’ new prog. direction, but no, the cape's been forgotton and they’re being their groovy old selves, albeit in a mighty rockin’ star spangled manner. And look! bass-player Danielle is back! back!! back!!! a mere month or so after her emotional departure from the band. Welcome back Danielle! There’s no Jenna tonite, so her place is taken by Panther Girl Rowena, who looks splendidly Truffaut mod and does a mean job of singing ‘Can You Feel My Heart Beat’, so much so that the audience demands more from her. There isn’t any more though, instead there’s Simon singing “A song about someone every one of you has met.” Which is, of course, the glam-popilicious ‘Sweet Sister Delia’. We’ve all met Delia ‘cos she’s the door lady tonight, and if anyone deserves their own Loves song, it’s Delia, who is a superstar. The Loves end with a wiggy wig out cover of Os Mutantes' ‘Bat Macumba’, inviting the audience to join in. A bloke with startling hair clambers out of the front row and onto the stage to show off with percussion. Ramshackle!

Getting down with the old guard, the Twee As Fuck DJ is ransacking a selection of tunes provided by the olde days. We are thus greatly amused by the spinning of ‘The 18.10 To Yeovil Junction’ by Bubblegum Splash! Peggy of the Pains seems to appreciate it too, nodding along and grinning as she takes to the stage.

‘Fsssshhhhzzzzzzssssss’ The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have added a second guitarist to their mix and it sounds great, adding an extra wash of white noise and trebly fuzz. Yum! This does mean we can’t really hear Peggy’s keyboards, but we can see her smiling and shaking her hair and er, being hugged by a tired and emotional ‘friend’ from Brooklyn who keeps prancing onto the stage; presenting her with a lollipop, fiddling with the keyboards etc. At the end he trips over and nearly sits on Kip’s lovely Fender Jag. He seems like the kind of friend you laugh at indulgently through slightly gritted teeth.

The set is chocka with Pains delights - 'Come Saturday', 'The Tenure Itch', 'Everything With You' - no alarms and no surprises, just simple tunes that whiz through you in a sherbetty way. Good ‘cos that’s what we want to hear. Forthcoming single ‘103’ gets an outing, snapping along sounding pure pop breezy. As ever, my fave is ‘Young Adult Friction’, the melody flipping and swooning through the noise, although Kip appears to substitute the words ‘mouldy page’ for ‘lovely face’. Eww!

A thing I love about the Pains live is the incredibly thumpy drums that power it all along and make it nigh on impossible not to dance or at least stamp your feet happily. Drummer Kurt only plays a simple wee kit (the Fortuna Pop! house kit), but lordy he smacks those beats.

Even though the band could never be accused of exploring new sonic territory, and we’ve heard their sound a gazillion times before, there’s just something about The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart that hits right. This fzzzzzttt energy and ebullience that rises off them and means you can’t not adore them. Peggy cheerily announces that the Lexington is their fave place to play. Kip tells us all this is their first London gig. He means this time around but the kidz all cheer ‘cos he’s made it sound like they’re in on something special. (n.b. why not amuse yrself by checking poorly researched reviews elsewhere that repeat this first ever gig fallacy?)

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart know the power of brevity. Their songs burst out, make their point, make you thrilled and buzz off. Their sets last year hit about 20 minutes or so. This time round they’ve got a bit more of a grip on the reins, tunes not galloping quite so hard means they clock in 30 minutes of stage time. The crowd’s not having it though and demands not one, but two encores, the set topped off with ‘Teenager In Love’ which is, er, my least favourite Pains song. Oh well.

All this pales into insignificance however when we go downstairs and The Loves offer us slices of Bobby Grindrod’s birthday cake. Behold, it is a GIANT FRENCH FANCY! Now that’s art.

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