Saturday night’s gig in front of forty people who knew they just had to be there, proved that if the recording studio is not quite yet the right place to harness The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's frantic janglepop and explosive punk force, then live their twin-engine guitar and keyboards assault hits all the right buttons.
That’s the basic impulse of bubblegum pop played fast, dirty and gleefully just like the Ramones; it’s the way the Modern Lovers took the good bits of the Velvet Underground (the elated, scuzzy rock’n’roll) and dispensed with the avant-garde trickery; it’s the same feeling as My Bloody Valentine flying close to the sun in 1987 with rapturous tunes and walls of feedback; and it brilliantly recalls how at their best Rocketship fused furious guitars with driving organ melodies.
Very few bands manage to transport their wild spirit and the legacy of their trailblazing heroes into something this special. At their best – which live was the entire set – they make you feel sixteen again. Or what being sixteen is meant to feel like. It’s here I must turn to Pete Shelley, who put it so well:
Things don't seem the same the past is so plainBuzzcocks Sixteen Again
This future is our future this time's not a game
This time you're sixteen again
There was a band called Sixteen Again, who put out a self-titled single 18 years ago. They only made the one ep. It still sounds great. I think, like Buzzcocks, they were from Manchester. Now would seem an appropriate time to listen to it.
There’s still a chance to catch Popbah (as people seem to be calling them) in the UK:
26 Feb: The Glebe: w/ Manhattan Love Suicides, Horowitz - Stoke
27 Feb: The Royal Park: w/ Manhattan Love Suicides - Leeds
29 Feb: Buffalo Bar: w/ Manhattan Love Suicides, Strawberry Story, The Hillfields - London