LIVE REVIEW: PVRIS @ Academy, Manchester – 6th April 2016

It’s staggering to think that, just this time last year, PVRIS were embarking on their first ever UK tour. The past twelve months has seen the trio go from first on a three band bill supporting Lower Than Atlantis to a planet-conquering juggernaut via their ethereal synthpop, and now on their debut headline run on these shores (entirely sold out, no less), their stranglehold on the UK looks to grow even tighter.

That’s a lot more than can be said for their duo of support acts, who are still quite a way away from joining them in the big leagues. Alvarez Kings [5] take to the stage first, and while their widescreen U2-meets-Mumford And Sons indie is immaculately crafted, it delves too far into overly beige territory to be truly likeable.

Unfortunately, K.Flay [4] drops the bar down another rung. Her concoction of hip-hop, alt-rock, synthpop and indie sounds confusing on paper, and that doesn’t really change in execution. She seems to have very little control over her own voice, which frequently sounds strained and wheezy, and while it’s listenable instrumentally, the guitars feel so basic and one-dimensional that it’s all difficult to get behind. And it’s telling that the biggest reaction comes when Lynn Gunn pops up for a go on the drums.

Thankfully PVRIS [8] have enough star power to patch up this sinking ship and then some. They feel like a much fuller, more fleshed-out proposition than either of their preceding acts because, unlike their supports, the Massachusetts mob have the balance between a tangible atmosphere and genuinely great songs down to a T. The frosty image they paint is amplified in its gothic undertones by their monochromatic backdrop of church windows and a projection of their synonymous hand-mirror, but it’s the songs that do the heavy lifting. Smoke kicks things off with its swirling darkness, while the frigid miasma of Eyelids and relative newbie You And I amp up the drama by a considerable degree.

But what makes PVRIS such a potent force comes in two forms – the big hitters and the presence of the actual band. The former come in thick and fast, picking up the pace to avoid too much a crawl; White Noise slams with the force of a falling anvil, and St. Patrick incites mass hysteria with its galloping beat and powerhouse of a chorus. It’s the actual band that ties it all together though, and they feel like the tightest of tight-knit units. Brian MacDonald’s sinewy keyboard lines weave their way through each element to tie everything together, while Alex Babinski’s chiming guitars only add to the eerie atmosphere. But the obvious focal point is Lynn Gunn, front and centre of the stage with a virtually flawless vocal performance. She has equal parts power and fragility in her arsenal, and both are used to full effect; there’s a haunting vulnerability in the duo of Only Love and an icy, stripped-back Ghosts, while Fire conversely rages with power and vibrancy.

It’s all enough to show that PVRIS’s staggering growth has been more than a product of hype and constant overexposure – they’ve become a great band entirely of their own accord, and it definitely shows. Their meteoric rises shows no signs of slowing down either, and as they more or less constantly show, they’re primed for much bigger things. And at this point, it’s not a case of if those bigger things with happen, but when.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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