Live Review
These New Puritans
The Barbican Centre

Photographer by Elinor Jones

These New Puritans have valiantly attempted to tour second album ‘Hidden’ on a budget; Jack Barnet’s audacious orchestrations squashed into chaos pads and laptops. Tonight, with the help of the Britten Sinfonia orchestra, the record finally gets the airing it deserves in a high-end theatre that feels made for a band this acoustically astute. It’s less a show of surprises (the record is presented in order) and more one of impressive confirmation – a knowing told-you-so with regards to how a record as ambitious as ‘Hidden’ should have been at least lorded by the Mercury Prize. Brass intro ‘Time Xone’ yawns into life as you’d expect, only to be bludgeoned by a brutally loud rendition of ‘We Want War’. With four percussionists pounding floor toms at once, it sets the continual drum-heavy tone of what’s to follow, and, what with These New Puritans being a band inspired by the rhythmically obscure, it’s no bad thing… initially.

Whilst ‘Hidden’ thunders on though, Jack’s vocals become more and more swamped, and so too do a number of orchestrated intricacies, including the mic’d up melon smashing that accompanies ‘Fire-Power’ – a neat nod to the band’s meticulous attention to detail. And that’s what tonight is really about – a celebration of a band with steadfast, limitless ambition and a frightening amount of composition know-how.

By Danny Canter


Originally published in issue 23 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. November 2010