March 3, 2011, London, England – I haven’t seen a band play a university for quite some time, so it felt strange walking up the six flights of stairs to reach Tutu’s, the club attached to King’s College in London. I had to check my ticket to make sure that the Pains of Being Pure at Heart were actually the band playing and that there hadn’t been some gross error on my part. Moving from the stairwell to the venue, I entered a modest-sized room with a breathtaking view of the River Thames and London’s South Bank. After finding a good view from the small balcony, the opening act began.
I must say, there are few things more enjoyable than when an opener you’ve never heard of blows you away. Spectrals are a five piece from London that play really tight, surf rock-inspired music. I made the comment that they sound similar to Best Coast and afterwards my Google search revealed that they’re actually opening for them over the next few weeks. Definitely worth a listen to if you haven’t done so before.
This was the Pains’ final show of their European tour, showcasing material from their self-titled debut as well as from their new album Belong, out at the end of the March. While they all appeared rather tired, this didn’t stop them from putting on a fantastic and physically engaging show. They put their heads down and just hammered away at their instruments. Favourites such as ‘Come Saturday’, ‘Contender’, and ‘Young Adult Friction’ got the crowd warmed up for a string of songs that I didn’t recognize and can only assume are from the forthcoming release. One new offering, ‘Heart in Your Heartbreak’ is simply beautiful live, and if the rest are any indication of what Belong will be like, we are all in for a treat. The only disappointment was that keyboardist Peggy Wang’s microphone was very quiet and we weren’t able to enjoy the melodic harmonies between her and lead singer Kip Berman that make the first album so enjoyable. Overall they put on an enjoyable performance of jangly indie that was well worth the six flights of exercise.