@Newcastle Riverside, April 3 2016
It’s a mere two days since Axl and Slash reunited on stage, and maybe PVRIS have been looking to the Troubadour for inspiration. “We don’t have stage times for them. The band are free spirits and don’t adhere to conventional means. Any times I give would be speculation”. THAT is the response from Newcastle Riverside only two hours before doors open.
I’m sure there are reasons for why stage times aren’t given and that’s not for me to speculate. But let me tell you this PVRIS. First and foremost, I’m a fan. I’ve got the original version of White Noise, the deluxe edition vinyl on pre-order, and my house is scattered with your merch. I’m also a human being with a family to look after. And it seems there are many people across social media who are as equally vexed with this approach as I am. Believe it or not, we could really know what time to get to the venue to see you. Build your image, but do it on your own time. Make sure you get information to people who ‘do’ actually need it. Rant over.
I love Newcastle Riverside. When I first saw a show here little over 18 months ago it was quite clear it was the venue that the city has been crying out for. I’ve actually seen PVRIS here before, supporting Lower Than Atlantis, yet even that warm-up didn’t brace me for the fervour and heat waiting inside the old ‘Sea’ nightclub (Ah, fond memories of Uni days). At first I was a little bit disorientated. I’d never seen the place so full that the extended floor space was needed. But such is the demand for this Massachusetts three piece. Fresh off the back of a support slot with Fall Out Boy in venues as grand as MSG, it’s widely acknowledged that this UK run will be the last chance to see PVRIS in a setting as intimate. Even down to the stage branding which matches the visual themes amongst the White Noise videos (and I’m talking Bryan Adams, Reckless levels of cohesion) , this is a band that’s being very carefully managed and groomed for success.
You see, PVRIS is very much about family. There’s quite the unbreakable bond between band and fans here. In fact it’s far, far above the level deemed ‘the norm’. PVRIS fans are rabid for their heroes yet to the naked eye the majority match the demeanour of singer Lynn Gunn. Slight and almost timid. Yet when the haunting, ethereal sonic soundscape starts – Brian MacDonald keyboards one side, Alex Babinskis delay-soaked guitars the other – the room reaches fever pitch before GVNN needs to utter a line. And it doesn’t stop.
The crowd do not ‘sing’ lyrics back at her, they scream them. Smoke and Mirrors are the openers but there’s no sleight of hand here. When St Patrick hits at song three, the sweaty angst in the room practically blows the roof off. These are anthems, make no doubt. I can only liken it to relentless electricity which keeps flowing until Gunn flips the switch and requests quiet from her followers in order to play a stripped down, plugged in but unplugged Only Love from 2014’s Acoustic EP. It takes balls and not many bands would drop it in the middle of a set, but it’s utterly bewitching and allows the quieter side of the split personality on show to breath. Holy and Eyelids come next, allowing the lighters and hand holding to continue temporarily before Let Me In tears the roof back off the place, followed by the final ‘pièce de résistance’ of the night – the expert positioning of new single You and I in the encore.
Just as tour mates BMTH did with Drown before they broke through the radio airwaves, You and I is the selling point of the new expanded edition of White Noise and it’s been written for a reason. I already feel sorry for the staff at the local HMV on launch morning but it really is a masterstroke and deserves to elevate the company of this wonderful trio.
My House is the obligatory finale, bringing to an end a set that doesn’t quite touch the hour mark but that’s always the hallmark of a sensational act isn’t it? Leave the audience wanting more.
So until next time we meet then PVRIS. I just hope that in the meantime this Gunn doesn’t follow too closely in the steps of Mr Rose.
Words and image by John Burrows