15 December 2016
Winter in Britain in 2016 is grey, dreary affair, the trains are on strike nearly everyday, the post office is on strike and now you can’t even get away from it all as the staff on the airplanes are on strike. What is needed is the wonderful colourful psychedelic landscapes that only Purson can create to brighten up a dull winter’s day. There is, however, just one problem…
2016 has been the year that great music suffered. Apart from the deaths of legends like Bowie and Keith Emerson etc, etc, several good bands did not survive the year either, including Virginia Monti’s wonderful Psychedelic Witchcraft. Unfortunately Purson will not be spreading their wonderful music into 2017 as tonight’s show sadly is their final concert.I first reviewed the band when they were supporting Comus shortly after the release of their first single; this was now four years ago. In that time I have watched the band evolve and change their sound and move away from the “occult rock” tag they were initially labelled with and encompass styles such as British psychedelia and progressive rock into their sound. Rosalie Cunningham has always had a knack of creating some wonderful tunes and the band, from the outside, seemed that they were on a critical and creative high; so the news to fans that this was to be the last show came as a bit of a shock.
So tonight I have mixed feelings entering the sold-out show at the Lexington. Even though the evening is billed as Spinefarm Records Christmas show, it’s really Purson’s farewell performance that everyone is here to see. The band look happy and relaxed as they walk on to the stage. I barely recognise Sam Robinson as he sits behind his keyboard, gone are the long locks, make up and androgynous looks; instead these have been replaced by short hair, glasses and a stripy t-shirt. Also tonight there is a second keyboard player on stage, Jack Hobbs, who was also at one time a drummer for the band.The set list for tonight is faultless, mixing new numbers like “Electric Landlady” and “Desire’s Magic Theatre” alongside older songs, like that first single “Rocking Horse”. The audience cheer wildly after each number. Rosalie seems both relaxed and emotional at times, especially when she thanks all the band members in turn for sharing the journey together. “Mr Howard” bristles with energy as does the wonderful “Spiderwood Farm”. Raphael Mura crashes around his kit in style proving to be a real showman behind the drums. George Hudson looks thoughtful behind his guitar, but still finds moments to do some wonderful rock’n’roll stances, while Justin Smith plays hot licks on his bass and hurls Christmas crackers into the audience and various points during the evening. Tonight, though, does feel like a celebration rather than the end. Songs like “Well Oiled Machine” are played with both a sense of fun and intensity. It’s at these moments when you take a step back and realise just how much this great band will be missed and a little feeling of sadness creeps in.
At the end of the set, Sam Robinson steps up to the mic to thank Rosalie and its here where it all starts getting a bit poignant. In a way, tonight is Rosalie’s night she has guided the band up this moment and so understandably she appears the most affected on stage. As they play their last song, Rosalie says “I hope I don’t start crying during this”. As the track reaches its triumphant finish, Raphael kicks over and demolishes the drums (“Hey, that’s my drum kit”, Rosalie says) and the band embrace each other in a group hug as the audience cheer and scream around them. And then that’s it, its all over and one of the best new bands begins its stroll into a multi-coloured sunset with their fans hoping that one day they will join forces together again to make their magical music.As I make my way back, I think about all the fantastic times I’ve seen the band live over the last four years and how sad it will be now knowing that this won’t happen again. But their legacy is in the great music that was created during their time together and I hope that more people will continue to discover this for a long time to come.