PVRIS - Live Review - Eventim Apollo, London

PVRIS - Live Review - Eventim Apollo, London

by Mils / Jan 28, 2023 / 0 comments
Sunday, 19 March 2023

PVRIS bring new songs and old to a packed Eventim Apollo, showing off their talents as dynamic live performers as well as their musical evolution.

Too often live shows highlight a band’s shortcomings. Especially if that band’s carefully crafted albums favour a big, slick production style over capturing the raw energy of real people playing together. Without the studio trickery to hide behind, on stage their limitations as performers, musicians, or songwriters become glaringly obvious.

That’s not the case with PVRIS. Instead, their big, bold performance at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo highlights several things not immediately obvious from their records. Their songs, which mash up rock, electro, and hip-hop elements, are actually more substance than style. Singer/songwriter Lynn Gunn is no slouch as a guitarist. And her voice is far more powerful and — with rich soulful, bluesy hints — far more nuanced than some of the autotuned studio recordings suggest.

Matching that voice are Gunn’s energy and charisma. When she’s not stuck at the microphone, she’s stomping across the stage while playing some heavy riff or other. And when she’s not snarling “Sayin’ what I feel, what I do, what I want” (aggro, glitchy Animal) or revealing “I don’t need a metaphor for you to know I’m miserable” (the ominous synthpop of What’s Wrong), she’s chatty and incredibly engaging. A mid-set photo op, involving a shark hat thrown up from the audience, turns into a chat about her cat and her girlfriend; her thrill at headlining a show this big is as genuine and endearing as her frequent yells of “woooh”.

That charisma’s vital when fronting a three-piece group on a stage this size. Especially when there are no distracting video screens, the lighting’s intentionally low and moody, and two-thirds of the band (Brian MacDonald on bass and keyboards/synths; touring drummer Denny Agosto) are stranded on slightly raised platforms. Three nursery-style plant displays and Agosto’s flailing arms fill some of the space, but it’s left to Gunn (and the songs) to cover the rest.

Support act Maggie Lindemann does well with even less. Backed by a guitarist, bass player, and drummer, she hurtles through a 30-minute set that cherrypicks highlights from debut album Suckerpunch. Pop-punk anthems like the all-out She Knows It and catchy kiss-off You’re Not Special, as well as dramatic rocker Novocaine (moody verses, blasting choruses) are particular highlights.

But it’s the sweeping and dramatic Casualty Of Your Dreams that’s the real standout, causing a part of the crowd to break out into what Lindemann describes as “her first mosh pit ever”. As she belts out “Let me live my life” on set closer Cages, it’s clear that these songs hit harder without the studio embellishments — just like tonight’s headliners.

Although PVRIS have increasingly moved away from their metalcore origins, their genre fluidity has never felt forced and onstage tonight creates a singular, rather than fractured, identity. Their oldest songs remain the most direct. Full-throated guitar rockers Mirrors, Fire, and My House still punch as hard as they did a decade ago, while the club-leaning You And I sounds as euphoric as ever.

Inclusions from 2020s Use Me highlight their evolution. The loud-quiet Gimme A Minute pairs a synth groove with scuzzy guitar and a breathtakingly soulful vocal. Old Wounds is relatively sparse instrumentally but no less dramatic than anything else on offer tonight, largely thanks to Gunn’s voice. And big groover Hallucinations boasts some nifty St Vincent style guitar work that also informs standalone 2021 single My Way. A scuzzy electro-blues stomp that’s both slinky and swaggering, it’s a slight departure for PVRIS. But it’s by no means out of place tonight, especially alongside the fantastic new single Goddess, which doesn’t sound unlike Jack White at his most experimental.

The other two recent singles are just as ambitious. The band are so confident in the snarling Animal that it opens the set. And Anywhere But Here begins with strummed acoustic guitar and a loping electro-rhythm before evolving into a tasteful beat over a luxuriant synth bed. Possibly their most fragile song yet, it’s all held together by a particularly bluesy Gunn vocal — and points to an exciting next chapter for PVRIS in the studio and on stage.

Rating out of 11: