Live Review


There may not have been the usual collection of inflatables floating around as Pure Love played at XOYO on Valentine’s Day, but then we were in Shoreditch, a land far too cool for such frivolities.

If you like live music, you will be in thrall to Pure Love. Halfway through their set, Frank Carter pronounced that any band that did not try as much as Pure Love should live in shame and basically fuck right off.

Carter uses the F word with the same expertise and commitment as Frankie Boyle – more of a call to arms than an intention to insult or upset. It is all part of the expression of a desire that lead singer Carter and musical accomplice Jim Carroll have to spread their anarchic yet extremely bossy playground ways to a mostly infatuated audience.

Carter knows the tricks of stage presence and uses them supremely, parting company with the band almost immediately and enveloping himself in the crowd. They loved it as they danced on with awe, and he loved it too. The energy he gets from being down and dirty is stupefying. We went in a little tired and underwhelmed by the ordeal that Valentines Day has become and came out revitalised, impressed and overwhelmed with the joy, effort and talent Pure Love had to offer.

Pure Love started with what seemed like the encore, thrusting out a great sound and arresting all with an extreme charisma that almost matched the enchantment of the night when it promised a fiasco of punk rock. Unfortunately, Pure Love is not a punk band. The first song, She (Makes The Devil Run Through Me) soon slipped into prog rock, with the rock theme apparent throughout amid the glimpses of Billy Bragg and Joe Strummer, and confirmed later when the band murdered Teenage Kicks. While Carter’s vocals snatch everyone’s favourite pop song back from the breach, the inevitable big and heavy bass lick pushed him and some simpering original guitar riffs aside. As Carter might say, “This is a fuckin’ pop song not a rock and roll anthem”.

The Hits, Beach of Diamonds, Anthem, March of The Pilgrims are followed by the excellent debut single Bury My Bones. Crowd favourite Burning Love follows Teenage Kicks.

Don’t stop reading. Carter really is an excellent rock star, and the band are aptly named. Not a sign of slush when we are told that they love us all soooooo much.

To prove it, Carter does an extraordinary impression of Moses, leaving the stage and parting the waves of moshpitters before placing the drumkit smack bang in the middle of the dancefloor. He stays with the drummer and takes control. Soon the crowd is doing runaround and then they are on the shoulders of the friend that they came with. And they really do it, and they enjoy it: it’s now a room of love that we’re in. They are a very obedient audience, they love him and we’re getting a little fond of him too. They like the fabulously named Handsome Devil’s Club.

Scared to Death, a familiar and wholeheartedly punk thing, follows as the interactive night hits its height. A quick burst of My Sharona excites those that know it – it’s a favourite of the band – before Riot Song is introduced without irony to a venue that sits a few hundred yards away from the incubation zone of the 2011 riots. Not a bad song, although strangely dated.

This was Pure Love’s one-year anniversary and they finally have an album out. If you can enjoy the oxymoron that is bossy anarchy and you can still appreciate playground punk then you are in for a treat.

The marvellous Pure Love followed Turbogeist onto the snug stage, and now we know why the support band was bigging the headliners up so much. Turbogeist is a fully formed band. But you can’t help feeling that they are in need of a mission. They are slick, and their set was certainly fun, but they also erred more towards the amount of sound they could produce rather than aiming to reveal anything different or special.

It’s all fine, but the knowing smiles on stage during Long Way Down, a song about taking several too many mushrooms appeared more symptomatic of complacency than any new insight. As good a name as Turbogeist is, that may be the best thing about this band.

Venue: XOYO, London
Support Band: Turbogeist

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