At a push, I know two Purson songs. And when you go see a band you have no investment in, sometimes it makes for some of the best live music experiences you’ll have. You get to make your own opinion of the band in the best setting possible, completely free from outside influence. As Purson rattled through their baker’s dozen setlist, they quickly grabbed my attention and didn’t let go.
Opening for Purson on this tour was Crosa Rosa, a young three-piece who seemed a bit downtrodden. Having one of those days where nothing goes right, it was obvious they were ready to unleash their frustration on their instruments. Full of punk angst with garage overtones, it feels like a bit of a mismatched bill given who their touring partners are. However, as the set continues, there’s a germ of psychedelic roughness lodged somewhere deep inside the music. Owing to their punk influence, songs aren’t overly long and are met with the due polite applause given to support acts.
There’s a hint of something catchy in “Little Leper” but for the most part of their section of the night, it doesn’t appeal to me. There’s a lot of distortion and effects going on and for the most part, it feels like it’s done just for the hell of it. The vocals are pretty damn muddy, a rare occurrence for Audio. However, their soundcheck was running late due to bad luck on their part and I can’t fault them for that or giving their all. I honestly think they just fall into the category of a band who aren’t my cup of tea.
Taking the stage just after nine, Rosalie Cunningham leads her band through a fuzzy and psychedelic set in front of a packed venue. It’s a chilled out atmosphere yet punctured with excitement to see something a bit different from a young band on the rise. Because that’s exactly what they are. Well, they’ve been around for a few years now but you get my point. It reminds me of seeing bluesier bands and there’s hints of that in the music.
Psychedelic and prog isn’t my go-to on the rock spectrum but I’ll happily reach for something a bit different now and again. Most of the time, it’s rather refreshing and it’s certainly the case here. Rosalie manages to bring out the dark tones of a Gibson SG much akin to Tony Iommi; it must be something about the horn-topped body which lends itself to more devilish tunes. It’s during the early moments of their set she reaches for and subsequently blasts lungfuls of kazoo into the microphone. It’s a strange choice of weapon yet you don’t wish for something more obvious. Though if you’re playing kazoo, pretty much any instrument is more obvious.
Despite admitting to being under the weather, her voice holds well and she probably could have gotten away with not mentioning anything. I’d be keen to hear what she’s capable of when she’s at her best. Like Crosa Rosa’s, her vocals are a bit muddy and lost beneath the music at times. However, when her voice punches through, it’s much like the guitar she wields. It’s sultry yet laced with a hint of danger. It invites but it comes with a disclaimer that you’re held responsible for your own welfare.
Pulling the setlist from their debut album and the upcoming Desire’s Magic Theatre, the songs are welcomed by attentive ears, the older songs garnering the warmest response for obvious reasons. Given that virtually everything on the night with the exception of “Electric Landlady” (the obvious one) was new to me, it kept my attention for the hour or so they played. It was new and exciting and it makes me want to check out some more psychedelic and fuzzy bands. Provided it’s done right.
Like Rosalie’s vocals, Samuel Shove’s organ work is buried within the mix and at several points, even with straining my ears and mentally blocking out everything else, I couldn’t hear him. Due to my view, I couldn’t see him often and when I could, I’d marry his handwork with what my ears were experiencing and nothing. A shame as I’m sure on record it’s far better. Meanwhile we have Justin Smith’s robust bass lines delivered with energy and finesse, patrolling his area of the stage but there’s no trouble in hearing his efforts.
I’ll reiterate what I said at the beginning: discovering new bands in a live setting is the best way to do it. Delivering an incredibly polished performance, Purson challenged me to broaden my horizons and they managed to do so without much effort, such is the level of musicianship on show from the five-piece. With most of the tour having sold out by the night of the gig, it highlights that if the quality is there, people will faithfully turn out for a band.