Barely a month after the release of their second album Another Eternity, Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring came over to the UK to tour their new material, bringing with them an array of synthesizers and enough lights to illuminate a small town.
In stark contrast to the upcoming headliner, opening act Born Gold chose to perform in what was almost complete darkness, being lit almost solely by their keyboards and synth controllers. Combined with their EDM influenced electro style and the eccentric dancing of frontman Cecil Frena, it felt almost as if they were trying to turn the venue into a rave. Unfortunately, on this Thursday night, the crowd didn’t seem too keen on joining in. The music was good, but the setting wasn’t quite right – stick these guys in a small tent, late at night at a festival, and they’d go down an absolute treat.
By the time Purity Ring emerged, the venue was packed full. On the stage, a full moon hung over a sea of fairy lights adorning the sides of the stage, with a podium between them for producer Corin Roddick and his equipment: a collection of synths and triggers, surrounded by diamond-shaped lanterns that lit up in vibrant colours in time with the music.
Vocalist Megan James wandered freely around the space at the front of the stage and weaved in and out of the hanging lights, with large fans at the front of the stage to blow her hair back in true superstar fashion. The visual elements on stage perfectly matched Purity Ring’s ethereality, using light and darkness to mirror the disparities within the duo’s music. Thanks to their unique blend of synth-pop and indie, even those who hadn’t heard Purity Ring before were fast transported to their dreamlike world, which is so intricately crafted and detailed, it’s as if you can feel the texture of the music as it envelops you.
One thing that is especially important for electronic artists is making sure that their shows are captivating and engaging, as the lack of “live” instruments being performed can often lead people to believe that the band aren’t actually doing an awful lot. However, from the opening track ‘Stranger Than Earth’, James’ incredible vocals did a fantastic job of grabbing everyone’s attention, and the brilliance of their music made sure the attention was held. Though the show was mostly new material, with only a handful of tracks from their debut album Shrines, the fans weren’t at all put off by this. In fact, in this beautiful venue filled with atmospheric lighting, the new music came to life.
As with pretty much all shows, the bigger songs went down the best, with the latest singles ‘Begin Again’ and ‘Push Pull’ only being beaten by ‘Fineshrine’ as the track that garnered the biggest reaction from the crowd. In places people sang along, and others danced and swayed with the music, but for the most part, people just watched and listened in awe.
As James climbed up behind the podium in the later half of the set and struck the large, circular moon hanging above the stage, the sound of a drum rang out as the moon lit up and left the crowd staring at her silhouette against the bright light, burning a perfectly fitting image into the eyes of the audience by which the show will be remembered.
Purity Ring will return to the UK on 29th October to play The Roundhouse in London, with tickets available now.
Photos by Dan Hess.