Concert review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 17 February 2010, Melbourne

5 Mar

Last month, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (should that be The Pains Of Having A Shit Band Name, or perhaps just The Pains?) made their first visit to Australian shores. Opening their jaunt around the country were two concerts at the East Brunswick Club, funnily enough located in Melbourne’s inner northern suburb of East Brunswick. The first show, the subject of this review, took place on the 17th of February, with the second – to be a review subject in the near future – on the next night.

The Pains’ eponymous debut album had grown on me during 2009 and I have become pretty fond of it. Stay Alive is one of my favourite tracks from the year, and the Higher Than The Stars EP capped off a good year for the Pains. How would they go on stage?

Naturally, there were a couple of local opening bands to get through. Up first were Summer Cats. Befitting their name, they played a summery brand of pop with twee leanings. Their songs are short; they effortlessly fit nine songs into a half hour set. When frontman Hugh noticed they had eight minutes left, he quipped “that’s four of our songs”. Some of the songs felt like they needed more time to gestate; TV Guide in particular lacked substance. The highlight of the setlist was the fifth track, In June. Hugh shared vocal duties with one of the female members of the band and it was very effective. They need to do that more often.

The second opener was The Crayon Fields. Their sound is inoffensive enough, pleasant for a few minutes, but in the end I find that it feels like they’re playing for so much longer than they actually are. The vocalist’s lack of stage presence doesn’t help. He looks and acts as if he belongs more in a university English class discussing poetry. Points for not being your typical boorish frontman, but his performance failed to leave any lasting musical impression on me.

So we then got to Pains, performing complete with instruments borrowed from Summer Cats. On their album, I feel that the jangly twee pop elements dominate, with the shoegaze elements more an augmentation than anything. Live, I felt the balance, if not switched, was at least evened out a bit. I tend to favour their jangle, but they still sounded quite good. This Love Is Fucking Right was a strong opener, and led into 103, a quality live track where the less jangly and more raw sound really showed its virtues.

Perhaps the two songs I was most looking forward to were the two weakest of the night. Both Stay Alive and Higher Than The Stars seemed to fall short of their studio highs. It was almost as if the Pains weren’t even trying to hit the same peaks, or didn’t want to work the crowd into climbing there. They were more content to just take us within sight of the peak. However, these were the only two songs that I thought failed to improve on the studio takes.

Come Saturday was naturally popular with the crowd, and the band’s title song, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, actually did something for me in the live setting – I think its energy is lost in a bit of repetitive banality in studio. Another song that did more for me live through increased energy was the final song of the night, Everything With You, which rode a wave of audience popularity.

Most interesting for me, however, were two new songs the band played. One was Say No To Love, which I understand has been performed at concerts before, and another I suspect was a premiere, as I have found nothing else about it online – The Heart In The Heartbreak, or possibly The Heart In Your Heartbreak, or something like that anyway. Both tracks were promising, though Say No To Love seems more fully formed and ready to go. I could barely tell it was brand new, while Heartbreak showed some more work is necessary to fully realise its virtues. Quite exciting to hear works in progress, though, and my interest is very much piqued in the band’s forthcoming material.

If you would like to actually hear this concert, another attendee recorded all three acts. See here to download the bootlegs. As for the setlist, it was:

1. This Love Is Fucking Right!
2. 103
3. Young Adult Friction
4. Stay Alive
5. A Teenager In Love
6. Twins
7. Come Saturday
8. Higher Than The Stars
9. Say No To Love
10. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

11. The Heart In The Heartbreak (?)
12. Everything With You

The band seemed to over-estimate how long their set would be and finished a little earlier than scheduled, which was a bit disappointing. When I noticed they would fall well short of curfew, I was hoping traditional closer Gentle Sons would be added to the set, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, the band retreated offstage, basking in a warm welcome to Australia. Perhaps they were more interested in drinking UDLs, which we were informed is what they were given after they requested the local alcohol of choice for “fifteen year old homeless girls” …

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One Response to “Concert review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 17 February 2010, Melbourne”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Concert review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 18 February 2010, Melbourne « An Ocean of Noise - 09/03/2010

    […] by Axver After performing a sell-out show at the East Brunswick Club on the 17th of February, The Pains played a second gig at the same venue […]

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