Arriving early at The Barbican we take a moment to lose ourselves in
its labyrinthine network of Brutalist architecture.
The vast wonder of tonight’s venue – with its experimental and uncompromising aesthetic – is perhaps a natural home for These New Puritans; a band who have always seemed caught between indie rock and an art place.
We’re here for a one-off event that will seebad recreate last year’s masterly, understated ‘Field Of Reeds’ in an “expanded” format.
a group to do things by halves, the Essex trio – Barnett brothers Jack
and George, and long-time
friend and extra pair of hands Thomas Hein are duly joined onstage by the immaculate talents of Portuguese
jazz singer Elisa Rodrigues and a 30 strong troupe of musicians; a lineup not so much expanded as formatted for widescreen.
Openers ‘The Way I Do’ and ‘Fragment Two’ are a deft couplet to start the night, their subtle melancholia echoing around the auditorium’s stark walls.
Although it’s not until the strains of ‘The Light In Your Name’ that the music comes to life; waves of discordance swaggering with menace toward the
evening’s first highlight.
What follows is the spellbinding triptych of ‘V (Island Song)’, ‘Spiral’ and ‘Organ Eternal’,
each song more intense and hypnotic than the last, Rodrigues’ vocals on ‘Spiral’ imbuing it with startling perfection.
Of course, it’s not flawless.
There are moments towards the end that drag their heels and on occasion the vocal mix feels wrong, Barnett’s mumbled lines crushed amid the
Whether this is a stylistic choice or just an error is unclear, but whichever it is, it can be forgiven when you consider the band’s greater achievements
A feeling made manifest during the cacophonous encore of ‘We Want War’ – its Sturm and Drang heightened to feverish proportions as George Barnett’s shadow is cast high across the Barbican walls.
Rhythmic eruptions – almost too intense to bear – form a rapturous finale.
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