Review of Puressence live at Nottingham Bodega Social Club on Saturday November 12th 2011

In the light of Elbow's slow-cum-rapid ascent to fame, it's a surprise that Puressence continue to be overlooked. Both bands have almost two decades of experience behind them; both have a knack for writing heart-wrenching guitar-led pop songs that hit the mark of 'epic', without being bombastic and both have the stage presence to more than carry them off. Yet Puressence remain strictly a cult concern, playing to an (admittedly devout) cast of hundreds whilst their counterparts fill out arenas and festival main stages.


However, with Puressence much more dependent on volume and atmosphere, such cosy confines will always be the best place to witness them. Their base of a rolling rhythm section and hazy guitars that make full use of shoegaze-patented effects is a template that is an obvious point of reference for bands like The Boxer Rebellion, Longview, Exit Calm and also tonight's support The Cedars, who are a perfect warm-up for the Manchester quartet. Whilst The Cedars may not yet have the songs or assurance to match the headliners, they are certainly an exciting prospect who are slowly and surely finding their own sound and identity.

Both bands strike you as unusual hosts for the sounds they create; Puressence's lead James Mudriczki in particular - all thousand yard stares and scowls - looks a world apart from the soaring vocals he breathes over each track. But then, they are a band of contrasts, at times pulsing and other times restrained. Their latest full-length LP, 'Solid State Recital', is arguably their best, an impressive feat for a sixth album released a decade and a half after their debut. Solid State Recital provides the backbone and highlights of their set, with the stomping rock of 'Solid State' and 'Burma' showing a band as relevant and as visceral as they ever have been.

Referencing their Manc brothers in amps Elbow again, the pinnacle of the set, 'Swathes Of Sea Made Stone', is an ebbing masterpiece every bit as driving and catchy as 'One Day Like This', if not even more so. With their differing fates, one could forgive Mudriczki and co for becoming bitter or even throwing in the towel. Instead, they go from strength to strength and continue to wow audiences that some might think may be a hundred times too small for a group of such talent but are certainly not lacking in devotion.


Jordan Dowling

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