The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Night & Day, Manchester, 25 May 2017
Manchester in May 2017 is perhaps unsurprisingly a slightly schizophrenic place
Media-soaked, it juts its chin up to the world, says, we’re alright, we’re going to be alright, everything is alright; whilst, in reality, the city feels emptied out, frightened and hurt, full of people looking to keep space between themselves and others.
New York band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart hit the Night & Day mid-tour. They seem to sense that all is not right outside and aim to provide a measure of solace and distraction. What else can a visiting band do?
For the uninitiated, The Pains (as they are labelled by support Night Flowers) wear their influences on their sleeve and their influences are late 80s guitar indie pop, the kind of scratchy, underproduced indie you would’ve once seen on Snub TV. Think: Field Mice by way of Dinosaur Jr. Or Green Gartside fronting Nirvana if Nirvana had said no to Butch Vig.
The set leapfrogs across their back catalogue, from the likes of Come Saturday and a stripped down Contender from their debut album through to Heart in Your Heartbreak and The Body from 2011’s Belong, Euridice from 2014’s Days of Abandon. Not to mention new songs like My Only and The Garret from the forthcoming album The Echo of Pleasure. They make a ramshackle noise. But no matter how hard they play or how much the crowd jumps up and down in wild abandon (and the crowd do give it their all), there is no getting away from the time it is and the place it is.
Frontman Kip Berman acknowledges that there are no words, that this is a city he has always loved, a place with a proud musical heritage. His voice quavers. He became a father himself not so long ago. The proximity to terror hits home. You sense he is a hair’s breadth away from losing it himself. In the end they do all they can do: they offer up This Love is Fucking Right and we accept it for what it is and we close our eyes and the noise takes us.