live review... Purity Ring
Each gig has a different and distinct vibe; some lean towards sweaty and moshy, others feel intimate and sacred, and sometimes,you get a gig that also feels like an art installation, in the best possible way. Purity Ring was one of those. Walking into J1 for the last few songs from Empress Of, the captivating vocals of Lola Rodriguez welcome us. For the end of the set, she performs beautifully, dancing across the stage and setting up the Junction incredibly well for what lies ahead; Empress Of seem to be a perfect compliment for Purity Ring's tour.
During the changeover between acts, the venue begins to fill up and excitement grows. We spot one woman reading a book at the back of the Junction and a young couple seem to be fighting near me too, but this doesn't last for long, of course. As soon as the lights dim for Purity Ring, something shifts and the whole crowd has a current of excited anticipation running through it.
And when Purity Ring come on, they stage the best light show I have ever seen at the Junction. It's impossible not to feel excited by it! Strings of LED bulbs hang on either side of the stage, and in the centre is Corin Roddick's custom-built system with geode-like sculptures. Behind them both, another drum hangs suspended like a moon. It feels as if one of Yayoi Kusama's infinity rooms became a music venue; a contemporary art vibe from the stage set-up, but with all the fun, excitement and dancing of a gig. Lights, controlled by Roddick, illuminate and change in response to the music, and it combines beautifully with Megan James' trance-like vocals. In the audience around me, people are constantly holding up their phones and saying “I love these lights!” often as “I love this song!”. It is completely beautiful. At one point, James holds her hand over lights at the edge of the stage; she's wearing a glove with a patchwork of broken mirrors on the palm, fracturing the rays of light as she sings.
Purity Ring's first album was recorded seperately; in and in. On stage though, they work seamlessly together and coax a usually reserved Cambridge crowd into cheering and dancing to their synths, and we all watch, rapt, every element culminating in a gig that is a totally immersive experience.
Purity Ring are touring Europe until mid-November; find dates/tickets here.
All photos by Nathan McLaren-Stewart.