I first saw The PainsOf Being Pure At Heart twice back in 2009 after latching onto the release of their eponymous album. Lauded over by the alternative press, I saw them twice that year, once at the now defunct Cockpit in the spring and again at Decembers ATP festival where it was interesting to see how their fan base and popularity had grown over course of the year. I remember queuing for the stage they were playing on at ATP, becoming one of many packed sardines in a room bursting to capacity. Six years on and I was intrigued to revisit a band I was heavily into at the time and see if my fond yet vague memories of discovering them in 2009 still lived on.
As everyone tentatively moved forward for the main act ‘The Pains..’ kicked in with 'Until The Sun Explodes' from their latest release, Days of Abandon. It’s a sluggish start as they move onto the hit single from their second LP, Heart In Your Heartbreak. At this point frontman Kip Berman shares with us that it’s the last day of tour, which can somewhat explain the slow start to the set and the weary look on the band members faces. The last date of a tour can be an anticlimactic one, on one hand you’re glad to be going home, but on the other you’re sad it’s over, so the mixed emotions can contribute to this limbo that seems to have begun the set.
As Jen Goma takes over on vocals for Kelly the pace and enthusiasm in the performance picks up. This ‘tip of the hat’ towards The Smiths' This Charming Man is total indie disco floor filler, evident on the fact that the crowd is now shuffling their feet and singing along. The set continues to improve as the band and crowd are now feeding off one another. A sprinkling of hit songs from all three albums fills the rest of the set ending with the climactic song 'The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart'.
A performance that started out a little hesitant turned into a great set that reminded me why I got into this band all those years ago. With a string of catchy pop guitar hits you could easily watch 'The Pains..' with no previous knowledge of their material and still find yourself shuffling about at the end. Finally the encore starts with a cover of 'Ballad of the Band' by Felt and it’s clearly evident where Kip gets his influences. Their whole ‘C86 Revival’ sound is being played out in this well-chosen cover. The finale to the encore is the heavy rocking 'Belong' as the band push out that last gasp of energy before they’re done.
You get the feeling 'The Pains..' are more pioneers of the ‘C86 Revival’ than outright beneficiaries of it, but to the people in that room and those still following The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart they’re a band well worth having in your life and worth revisiting if like me you previously left it too long.
Words & Photos - Robin Chamberlain
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Official
Brudenell Social Club Official