The last time Massachusetts dark-pop purveyors PVRIS played in London, they were down the road, headlining a sold-out 5,000 cap Brixton Academy. Tonight’s show is half the size, one of three “intimate” UK shows to celebrate their return to UK shores after two years away. But with the band’s third album rumoured to drop later this year, there’s a sense in this packed room that they’re about to transcend to something much bigger.
There’s no sneak peak of what that new music might sound like right now, though. Instead, this is a reminder of why the band – vocalist Lynn Gunn, multi-instrumentalists Brian Macdonald and Alex Barbinski and new touring drummer Denny Agosto, who replaced Justin Nace in January – have enjoyed such a rapid ascent. As audiences lapped up their glistening blend of euphoric choruses, glossy synths and glistening guitars, underpinned by brooding, strobe-lit tension, they graduated from pubs to the capital’s more cavernous spaces in just over four years.
This is effortless alternative pop-rock, full of emotion and written to unite huge rooms. Mosh pits break out to ‘Mirrors’ which, with its foreboding synths, sounds like a heavier Chvrches and when Gunn strikes the first shadowy keys of ‘Half’, it comes off like New Order (if they had worshipped at the alter of London goth club night Slimelight rather than the Hacienda.
Production-wise too, things are stripped back and simplistic – no visuals and bare bones lighting – which puts the music, and especially Gunn, front and centre. Back in 2018, the singer had to re-teach herself to sing when she damaged her voice after years of constant touring. Gunn seemed a reluctant frontwoman when those struggles played out openly on huge stages. Not tonight.
Flanked by her bandmates, she confidently commands the stage, leading the venue-wide bellow-fests to ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘Winter’, smiling when a punter at the back of the room yells, “We love you Lynn!”
Having opened up about her battle with depression when writing the band’s second album, ‘All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell’, she’s now transformed songs such as ‘What’s Wrong’ – which contains the lines “This skin don’t feel like home / Don’t wanna see another damn inch of my skull” into anthems of bravery and resilience.
As she jumps onto the barrier for penultimate track ‘Death Of Me’, from last year’s ‘Hallucinations’ EP, mobbed by adoring fans who echo back every word, it’s clear that she’s an icon-in-waiting.
‘You And I’
‘Death Of Me’