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GlamRacket @ Buffalo Bar, London
Saturday April 7 2012


Seventies guitar sounds are tumbling from the speakers like spilled pints of Double Diamond. People are wearing platform shoes, and they're not even being ironic about it.

This is GlamRacket - the name is always written without a gap, presumably to distinguish the club from the Fall song. It's London's unashamed glam-out, a seventiestastic world where T-Rex are still superstars and Roxy Music never went MOR.

Tonight, live on stage, we have some nu-glam. Well, sort of. Purson aren't really a glam band, in the way that Slade or Mud or even the New York Dolls were glam bands. But they are rooted firmly in seventies rock, and they've got the Sabbaff-esque riffs and medallions to prove it.

Yes, medallions. The band are all gussied up like they've just stepped out of a Creem photoshoot, circa '73. The drummer and bassist are sporting what look like hefty brass ashtrays slung round their necks; the sort of thing your granny would display on the sideboard, to put walnuts in at Christmas. Fortunately these acoutrements are worn over black roll-neck sweaters, for that bohemian beatnik look. Nobody's going for the full open neck shirt and chest hair option here, and for that I think we can all be thankful.

The band's image is obviously carefully contrived - I'm teetering on the brink of saying over-contrived. But it has a purpose. Before they've played a note, we know just where Purson have stationed themselves on the 50-odd year timeline of rock.

And now, the noise. Big riffs break out. Purson effortlessly create the beefy heft of seventies guitar, before heavy metal took the down-home soul out of rock music, and definitely before digital effects made guitars sound like wasps in jam jars. Rolling, psychedelic organ bulks up the sound, although I see a laptop discreetly hidden near the keyboard player - there are limits, it seems, to Purson's pursuit of seventies authenticity. Personally, I was hoping for a Hammond and a Leslie speaker. Perhaps when they get their record deal with Harvest or RCA Victor they'll be able to go for it.

PursonGiving it the full Grace Slick on vocals, here's Rosalie Cunningham - who we last saw fronting Ipso Facto, glacially cool all-girl post-punkers who coulda bin contenders if theyda stuck around. But tonight, tellingly, Rosalie looks far more comfortable fronting Purson than she ever did with her last lot.

The music Purson make - warm, organic, fuzzy at the edges, as if every song was rumbling through the speakers of a turned-up-to-eleven Goodmans music centre - suits Rosalie's vocals. She's got a naturally rich rock diva voice, and she deploys it skilfully. But Purson also seems to suit her. Why, she even smiles at times, and that's something I never saw her do in Ipso Facto.

Purson are the full package, and very neatly done. I like their post-hippy era anthems. I like that crunchy guitar sound. But I wonder if the band have overdone it, if they're over-packaged, a nagging doubt which extends even to the music. The band's proggiest song, 'Spiderwood Farm', with its King Crimson-style time changes and folkie feel, is only a green Rizla away from Spinal Tap's 'Stonehenge'. I half expect the band to take it down a bit, and for Roaslie to remark, "And how they danced, the little people of Spiderwood Farm". Following which, the dwarves come out.

Of course, the dwarves don't come out. But for a moment there, it felt like they might. That's the line Purson have to walk, I suppose: they have to balance on the tightrope of influence, stretched precariously over the crevasse of pastiche and the chasm of parody. I don't think they'll fall, but it might get a bit wobbly at times. And with the likes of Black Moth coming up on the rails - a band very much in the same musical area, but without the costume element - Purson can't count on having the seventies to themseves.

PursonTo round off the set, Purson whack out two covers, specially for the GlamRacket crowd. Slade's 'Cuz I Love You' gatecrashes the party like a bunch of bovver boys, the band doing a fine job of seeing off Slade's cheery unsubtlety. And then, a fine and obviously heartfelt romp through Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream'.

Curiously, while Purson's own songs do tend to sound like the band have been getting it together in the country, Bowie's urban urgency brings in a distinctly different flavour. For as long as the song lasts, Purson are pounding those London pavements with Dave.

I wouldn't mind if Purson went in that kind of direction with their own stuff, and introduced a bit of city grit into the gears. Now that's a glam racket I'd like to hear. I'd even put up with the medallions.


Purson: Website | Facebook

GlamRacket: Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Purson by name here.

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