These New Puritans
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, Fri 16 Apr 2010
What did those drums ever do to These New Puritans? Something pretty heinous, judging by the way not one, but two of the band spend most of the set whacking seven bells out of them. It’s the most arresting aspect of the show -- and the sight of the two of them, going at it in unison, only adds to the confrontational, tribal punch packed by this band’s sound.
With this rhythm section it’s hard not to be pulled along in the visceral momentum of it all, but chainmail-clad frontman Jack Barnett’s vocals leave aren’t quite the convincing battle cry they are on record. Nor do they always hit the notes, and in the more orchestrally oriented, majestic sections of these mini-epic songs, that really starts to matter.
After a disappointing no-show from support act LoneLady, TNP start with current album standout track ‘We Want War’, which leads you to wonder if they can keep up the momentum through a full hour set, but to their credit, for the most part they do, as they play through most of their album Hidden plus a few extras. It’s dramatic and unpredictable stuff: choral salvos and brutal beats provide the backdrop to Barnett’s spat-out, urgent, paranoid chanting, only to be joined by a sudden burst of Fall-esque guitar for a few bars until the next wrongfooting change. A dishearteningly small crowd though (perhaps put off by a mixture of sunshine outside and a seemingly disproportionately high ticket price) and said crowd’s oddly quiet demeanour obviously rubbed off on the band, and while TNP remain nothing if not exciting, this show didn’t quite live up to the trance-inducing apocalyptic thrill this band should be capable of in a live setting.