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The Reds, Pinks and Purples @ The Lexington (Live Review)

  • Published in Live

The Reds, Pinks and Purples

@ The Lexington, London

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros

On night two, of two sold out back-to-back nights at The Lexington, and after the driest ever opening band, The Reds, Pinks and Purples, styling themselves after the colours at magic hour, were anything but abracadabra. With the bravado, body and charisma of a national bowling league champion, Glenn Donaldson played to an ageing dad rock audience shrouded in blue-black darkness. When called out on said darkness by the fans, we were kindly asked to keep it to ourselves. The 12-song set started off with ‘Record Shop’ ,where we were not at all subtly reminded in a sing-song manner to pick up the record at the merch booth after the set, way to trip at the starting line, bud.

Donaldson’s on-stage persona reminded us a lot of Cake’s John McCrea. Guess that shouldn’t be so surprising since both hail from similar regions on the planet. Their attitudes on stage, also similar and lyrical songwriting too. The feels come across sort of like, ‘I’ve made it now, so you have to put up with me’ but that’s where the similarities end. John has an old hat approach to his singing style, spoken, Sinatra-crooneresque. Donaldson, on the other hand, comes across as a mix of The Cure’s Robert Smith and Blues Traveler’s John Popper. I know, worlds apart, but this is our article, we were there and you likely weren’t. We’re dying on this hill. The music, too, differed. Unlike Cake’s constant evolution experimenting and stitching together different genres and instruments eludes The RPPs. They stick to what works and vary safely with tremolo surf styling, which were a hit with us. Overall though, we weren’t bowled over by the set, nor particularly repulsed, we just wish we’d have felt something, they had tried more, or a combination of the two.

We’re not here to trash the set, any more than a racoon can help being what it is; a trash panda. Both racoons and The RPPs have their place with us and are entertaining in equal parts, though mostly for different reasons. Few can refute that they are living their best lives, and mostly, people are here for it. Both shows at the Lexington were sold out, no doubt from longtime fans. The audience gave off Thatcher/Reagan era vibes but sold out nonetheless (Fuck you trickle-down economics Tory scum!). The atmosphere had the flavour of beans on toast, warm and comforting but not something you’d order out in front of someone (sort of like wearing a bathrobe in public). Although the music didn’t leave a bad taste in our collective mouths, the recent trend of loud-mouthed audience members did.

We will say that we were very impressed at Donaldson’s handling of the situation. Without skipping a beat Glenn sauntered over to stage right, singing into the offending member of the audience’s fat-face, giving them the attention they so desperately yearned for and so sorely lacked in their lives. It wasn’t until the lady next to us turned around and yelled “SHUT UP!!” at the top of her lungs that the offending party did so and slunk away with their tail between their legs. The highlight of the set, to be sure, as we didn’t stick around for the encore.

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PEM @ The Lexington (Live Review)

  • Published in Live

PEM

@ The Lexington, London

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros 

A few months ago, Brace Yourself Press, who’re a seemingly never-ending fountain of consistently solid recommendations, shot us one out for PEM and her then recently released single. The vocals hooked us straight out of the gate and shot us back to 2017, when we got caught up in Zoee’s sugar sweet pipes layered atop of equally enamel corroding synth pop. The underwater trill in PEM’s voice is our siren call and could be yours too. If you close your eyes and listen closely when she speaks, you can hear it floating in the back of their throat almost imperceptibly. Their music invites the listener into a conspiratorial embrace and holds them there firmly; not that there was much resistance in the first place. The single came on us like a downpour so naturally we did our best to blag our way into their set to hear it, and much more, for ourselves.

Although singing nearly solo throughout their performance, PEM is quick to note that the rising tides (or talents in this case) raise all boats. From support acts to her band, family, friends, audience, and even designer friend that made their loosely woven and airy Furiosa attire, (pre-Fury Road, more The Green Place). The eleven-track set kicked off with a level climb from ‘Gulls’ and kept a steady ascent all the way through to ‘Sentimental’ (where the violin really came into its own). Set standouts, included but were not limited to, the aforementioned ‘Awe’,‘Gut Health’ and ‘Lullaby London’.The audience hung forlornly off every syllable and note as precariously, and in as much of a fragile state, as PEM’s fingernail which had recently been smashed up in a car door.

Getting away from a ketamine nightmare for a moment, yes, the vocals very much did live up to the hype. We imagine hearing her for the first time would’ve been the same as hearing the golden tones of Karen Carpenter’s voice as she sang‘Superstar’; utterly captivating. The whole set, in fact, was a landscape of rich tapestry, woven right before our very senses.  It is both alluring and terrifying that such a young soul’s well-formed storytelling feels like it has a lifetime’s worth of experience behind it. Speaking to PEM candidly, and off the record, in a sea of people at The Lexington, which surely must’ve been over capacity, everything and everyone else melts away and, like her performance, is a singular experience we recommend if you’re lucky enough to have it. As luck would have it, you can. PEM is currently touring and has just released her EP, which is as satisfying an experience as the performance live was.

Our biggest, and only, regret of the evening is not having the wherewithal when given the chance during our chat to ask if she’d ever consider covering Roy Orbison’s ‘Blue Bayou’. If you, the reader, would also like to avoid the pitfalls of regret,don’t forget to catch one of PEM’s upcoming gigs but bonus, the opening bands were super-solid-rocksteady too and you shouldn’t miss any of their upcoming gigs. Up and comer Scarlett Wolf and her witchy sisterhood slapped. Canty,who followed suit and came at us out of nowhere like a rogue wave, did not disappoint; quickly capsizing any reservation one might have seeing only two figures shrouded in darkness, one sitting on stage. They both are a vivid reminder of the reasons to never miss the opening acts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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