Pure Reason Revolution - Heaven, London
It’s always gutting to see a band so talented, and with such obvious appeal about them, fail to reach the heights of popularity you might have expected of them - and even more so when they decide to pack it in because of that. One of those bands is Pure Reason Revolution, an act who managed to meld progressive-rock, pop and electronica to supremely catchy effect, and who tonight are playing their last ever show together. Despite the sad undercurrent, this show promised to be a real celebration of the band's catalogue, with the four-piece running through the entirety of their tremendous debut album The Dark Third.
It’s true that this album tends to overshadow their later efforts, but from the opening space-rock jam of ‘Aeropause’ into the beautifully sweet vocals of Chloë Alper on ‘Goshen’s Remains’ it’s clear why this album is held in such high regard by their fans. ‘Apprentice Of The Universe’ is ushered in by eerie electronic beeps before segueing into twelve-minute epic ‘The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning’ and its sheets of glacial ambience and disembodied vocal harmonies. Tonight’s version is performed with more power and precision than ever, and by the time the chorus comes in the crowd are singing right along with the band, and when the chunky groove and screeching strings move in towards the climax, the audience even start to move a tad.
The second half of the album sees the band given more of a chance to rock out, with ‘Nimos & Timbos’ showing that they are just as capable of crafting a punchy rock song as they are a long-form, prog epic. ‘Bullits Dominae’ is another latter highlight, with its frantic guitar riffage and lush harmonies from both vocalists. It’s the incredibly catchy strains of ‘The Intention Craft’ that appears to really catch the crowd’s attention, with the band turning a truly urgent and emotional performance. When the final refrain of ‘Ambassador’s Return’ reaches its climax, there’s part of one’s self that almost hopes it will finish right there after the stunning show. However, the band returns for another set consisting of their later material not long after.
While it’s true that neither Amor Vincit Omnia or Hammer & Anvil are held in such high regard as their debut, both critically and with fans, they rip through the set with just as much conviction. In fact, the songs from those albums provide a welcome change with their more electronic-leaning tendencies, sounding far better live than they do on record. The sludgy synthesizers of ‘Deus Ex Machina’ squirm between distorted guitars and Courtney’s rapid-fire vocal, while the heavy electronic pummel of ‘Last Man, Last Round’ has the crowd almost dancing. A return to The Dark Third era gives us ‘The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows’ and its euphoric chorus at the end sees one of the most special moments of tonight’s show. Closing with a thunderous and hypnotic ‘AVO’ and chants of “don’t split up”, the band are visibly touched by the adoration shown by their fans, and will be safe in the knowledge that these people will be listening to their records for years to come.