Puressence – live review from Manchester
April 18 2011
”ËStick with us, we may just make it’. is Puressence frontman James Mudrizcki parting comment to a packed Manchester Ritz.
In one phrase he sums up the band’s predicament perfectly. Every time you go to a Puressence gig everyone comes up asks the same thing, ”Ëhow come these haven’t made it yet?’ whilst failing to notice the band selling out all of Manchester’s biggest venues. They may not be U2, they may not be Elbow but they have a rabidly loyal crowd and are perhaps the purest Manchester band there is
Later on bassman Kevin Matthews points out that the band have been going twenty years and we nod our heads like old troupers. I can remember them rehearsing in the Boardwalk- that legendary space where the Happy Mondays, ACR and my band the Membranes would make various types of rackets.
Puressence were just young kids from Failsworth but even then they sounded like the finished article. They had the same rudiments of sound that they still have- the rock solid rhythm section with those bass heavy bass lines, that effects laden guitar and James’s remarkable voice, a man with the ”Ëvoice of a brickie who sings like an angel’ as I once typed.
I produced their first single ”ËOffshore’ and expected them to be massive. It hasn’t happened yet but the people who understand this sort of stuff are touched by the band’s beauty, the rare beauty that lies in the heart of this music and that’s the rub. Being northerners they would deny beauty at every turn, we don’t talk about that kind of stuff up here y’know! But fuck, can we sing about it! When Puressence let fly and especially on a brace of great new songs, they really let fly,.
The band build up one of those smartly, intelligent backdrops of almost ambient rock and James just lets go, his voice taking him over and going off at tangents- never wasteful and never indulgent- it’s a powerful tool, one of the great voices, a real gift. The audience are entranced, melting into the spectral sound.
This is the real sound of Manchester- just like the Chameleons or the early Roses– those fluid rock bands with imaginative guitar players and charismatic singers building soundscapes- this is the very core of Manchester that has nothing to do with fashion or the much edited lineage that dominates the city’s narrative.
Puressence are far too honest, far too real, far too much lost in the music to play the game. They actually just get up on stage and play and see what comes out and are probably just as astonished as everyone else at what DOES come out. This heartfelt honesty turned into molten theatrical melodies and rousing songs has its own trajectory, its own rules.
And North Manchester turned out in force for this, the less student end of the city does loyal and Puressence reciprocate. These fans support a band like a football team and this football team appreciated that.
Triumphant as ever Puressence leave the stage and that astonishing voice is left ringing in our ears. They remain dignified, unbowed and unbeaten and still capable of beauty and genius- they have ‘made it’ a million times over- far better to be left to make music this invigorating than to be compromised into a million selling bunch of robots.