Progventure Parts 2&4: Pure Reason Revolution - The Final UK Tour
Pure Reason Revolution, Losers - Heaven, London, United Kingdom, 30.11.2011 by Ivor (32)
Pure Reason Revolution - Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom, 26.11.2011 by Ivor (25)
It was sometime in August that the devastating announcement came about Pure Reason Revolution disbanding after a coming final tour in the UK. As a consolation a promise was made to play their magnificent début album The Dark Third in its entirety at those shows. My favourite band giving their farewell tour... and playing my favourite album in full. No matter what, I had to be there for at least one show. I just had to see it with my own eyes, had to hear it with my own ears, had to experience it live.
To be honest, I hate this kind of situation but then again, who wouldn't? All you know the band is doing fine and giving shows. For various reasons, you are yet to see them in, what you think, a not so distant future. You think that sometime towards the end of the year seems like a good time as any to catch up on it if there's a good opportunity. So, you plan mentally for various choices you might have... and then the carpet is pulled from under you, the freedom of choice is yanked away, and once again you find that you don't have much say in the game with the hand that has been dealt to you.
The first time such a thing happened to me was when Anneke van Giersbergen left The Gathering in 2007. Back then only three shows were left after the announcement. Luckily for me, the very last one took place close enough - in Finland. There was a huge downside to it, though - it was a festival show headlining the second stage. There's whole lot of things wrong with a festival gig as it is without it having to be the first and the last experience of the band. Nevertheless, it was a very special event for me. Other times similar moments have happened, I have pretty much decided to bail out. You know, as much as you'd like it to be otherwise, life pretty much always is in the way of things.
So, why the hell am I telling you all this? There's always a very distinctive feeling of fear regarding the live performance of the music you cherish and the band you hold in very high regard. You never know if it meets your expectations live, or, for that matter, if it possibly can meet your expectations at all. So, you tend to tread very carefully while trying to select which is to be your first experience of the band. You most likely don't want it to be a festival show, though. And you most definitely don't want it to be the last show. Usually, that is.
The main reason you don't want it to be the very last show is because regardless of the public façade held by the band you never know the real reasons behind the split, nor you know the condition the band is in because of it all. So, the last shows are a coin toss away from being either a very awesome, or a very unawesome experience, if you permit me to use such a non-word. With Pure Reason Revolution bailing out of festival appearances, Europe mainland shows and supporting tours at a very short and abrupt notice, naturally I was worried. But as I said, you're not given much say in the matter. You either are there, or you are not. That's all the choice you get.
While planning for the trip, once or twice I had the crazy idea of hitting all six shows scattered over the UK. But dismissed it as being too crazy. Or not crazy enough, if you will. Besides, coming up with all travelling arrangements to incorporate that all on my own seemed no fun. So, I settled on a Saturday gig at Norwich and the very last one in London on Wednesday, and decided to visit some other shows in the meantime. In retrospective, I don't know whether to regret it or not. Arena's gig in between on Sunday was fantastic, but so would have been all six shows of the Pure Reason Revolution tour. Nevertheless, it was the first time for me to actually see more than one show of any tour.
Two gigs out of six; in some ways so very similar, in others ways totally different. One in Norwich, the other one in London. One in Norwich Arts Centre located in St Swithin's church, the other taking place at a venue normally operating as a gay club called Heaven. One housing a crowd of 100 people or so, the other probably close to 1,000. One without the support act, the other one supported by Losers. One in the middle of the tour, the other one being the very final show. You get the picture. While it's the same band giving the same show, it's taking place in different circumstances, same show on different scales, with different significance.
I knew nothing of Losers, at least I thought so. Bit of a lousy name for a band, if you ask me. I even joked whether their identifier was hand pressed to the forehead with fingers in L-shape. Guess what?! Nevertheless, I was assured that they are an excellent band live. All I had to do is see for myself then. Some time later it was largely confirmed. As is turns out, to some extent it's not that dissimilar to Pure Reason Revolution's music. Bits of electronic music and pop elements mixed in with rock, delivered with passion and a whole lot of energy.
It took me some time to actually recognise what I was seeing, though. Or at least to draw some parallels. My mind took me for a ride and soon I remembered seeing The Cooper Temple Clause live over 5 years ago at a festival in Estonia. After that I pulled out that Losers was also Tom Bellamy's band. Then it started to make sense why the band on stage sounded good. It was a nice reminder from the past, and a note (or an excuse) for the future to catch up on the stuff. As far as I'm concerned, and judging by the show, there's some good stuff to be found.
To my delight, my fears proved to be ungrounded regarding Pure Reason Revolution's live performance and their delivery of The Dark Third. To be honest, I wasn't that worried to begin with, never mind what I said earlier about it. I had seen live recordings and knew that it will be great if the band is in good shape - and that was the real question. So, when I saw them first at Norwich, it was in a cosy environment. I know it sounds weird to say so about a gig taking place in a church but, I mean, cosy is not a description that comes right to mind when you think about churches. Nevertheless, this is how it felt with the stage being low and small, modest floorspace, and the scarce crowd.
However, it wouldn't have happened without the band. They totally upheld the warm atmosphere. The band was all smiles, the fans cheering. At some point, Jamie introduced his parents who were also present at the gig. The stage crew set up tens of little toy soldiers on Jon's keyboards during the intermission, playing on Jon's fascination with World Wars. Fans, or rather one particularly determined fan, demanding and being denied - not for the first time, methinks - the request for "Golden Clothes" to be played. Even a screwed up and restarted "Bullitts Dominæ" failed to crack the atmosphere, accompanied by friendly jokes and cheers as the song was begun again.
Thinking back at Norwich gig, I can't help seeing it as a bitter-sweet moment. It was kind of like the last warm sunny summer day when autumn has already begun. Or the last chapters of a particularly good book, if you will. Everybody knows it is ending, even though nobody wants it to, but since it's not yet the very last concert, it's joy all around in a small circle of friends. The tale still goes on, you know. In this regard the gig in London was in high contrast. You just had to take a good look at people around you. There was so much sadness in the air, and even tears were shed.
Another thing that set the London gig apart, was the size of the venue and the stage. Being there something became apparent to me. It was how a Pure Reason Revolution gig was supposed to be. Their gig has to be huge, the band is simply meant for a big, dark, smoke filled stage, melodies overwhelming the audience. Admittedly, a venue housing a thousand people is still pretty damn small. However, somewhere at this scale the air can become electrified during the show, if you know what I mean, songs coming from the stage start resonating on a different level. "Fight Fire" is a killer track on the album as it is, but live right there it became huge and powerful. The same can be said about "In Aurélia" and "The Twyncyn / Trembling Willows." So much energy flowing back and forth.
The special part of both evenings, however, was the full recreation of The Dark Third. That's not an easy feat for a complicated piece like that. But the beauty of the album was pulled off gracefully, and never mind the restarted song at Norwich. This is a small technicality in comparison with the emotional impact of the whole delivery. It meant quite a lot to be able to hear it live. 5 years of listening to it, and finally see it as well.
Set 1: The Dark Third
2. Goshen's Remains
3. Apprentice of the Universe
4. The Bright Ambassadors of Morning
5. Nimos & Tambos
6. Voices in Winter / In the Realms of the Divine
7. Bullitts Dominæ
8. Arrival / The Intention Craft
9. He Tried to Show Them Magic! / Ambassadors Return
11. Black Mourning
12. Les Malheurs
14. Deus Ex Machina
15. Last Man, Last Round
16. The Twyncyn / Trembling Willows
17. In Aurélia
18. Fight Fire
(Set 2 in Norwich was 10-15, 18, 19, 17, 16)
It was easily worth travelling for these shows. I should have undertaken such a trip long ago. Going to two shows was the bare minimum, as it turned out. It put things into perspective and eased off the pressure of being able to see only one gig. Fans were travelling far and wide, though, from all over the world. Some for a single show, some for the whole tour. Let me put it this way, I thought I was a huge fan undertaking the trip... and then I met Marcus, as well as Kuba and Ella. I don't think I've ever met people who have been to so many shows of the same band. The fault's all mine, though.
To feel the full emotional extent of the final show, however, you should have been there. The whole venue chanting "Don't split up!" was huge. The band even seemed to be taken aback a little and for a moment there, I like to think, they were contemplating to revert their decision. Oh, how I wished that this split was a carefully crafted let's-split-now-and-reunite-5-years-later marketing ploy. Unfortunately, so far it is not. The band ended on a high note while still going up. Hopefully the band members will continue to output awesome music on their own.
It's redundant to say I'm happy to have been part of it all. So, for a conclusion I'll leave you with quotes from some people that were there with me.
John, UK: The last ever PRR tour was also their best ever. The band was sounding amazing and were clearly really enjoying themselves. The Dark Third was extremely well re-created, and the separation of the set into two halves worked really well. The whole thing was sad but so much fun, and it was great to see them go out with a bang!
Kristin, Estonia: Pure Reason Revolution is definitely worth dragging yourself to the UK to hear it, the concert was great. I had managed to walk my feet really painful on the previous days and yet I could not sit in some corner and just listen, I had to stand right in front of the stage and go along with the music. The band itself seemed to be having as much fun as I did, laughing over messed up song and talking to the audience. I really hope they will be back in some form or another one day.
Shirin, Germany: Well, since I am not a hardcore-fan and I am not depressed. It's a pity the finest bands in the world have to split while Justin Bieber stays. Something just isn't right about this.
Marshall, Hong-Kong/UK: Having been a fan of the band's studio albums for quite some time, I have never been prepared for the live experience to be so immense. PRR has always been soothing or eclectic for me. Never have they sounded heavy, urgent and energetic - until that night, which is also their final night.
Marcus, Germany/UK: Doing the whole of PRR's farewell tour was an incredible experience and a roller coaster ride of emotions. Each gig was truly unique and the band were having more fun on stage than I've ever seen on previous tours. Fans travelling from as far as Singapore and people with tears in their eyes after the final show are clearly proof of the exceptional mark this band has made.
Kuba, Poland: PRR has been part of my life for a long while. I simply needed to do the entire "farewell tour" with them. Each show has been magical in its own way. I've seen them 14 times in 5 different countries over the years and they have never been as good as in Heaven, London. Even though I couldn't stop the tears in my eyes when it was all over. Really gonna miss them.
Thank you all who were part of it, the band and the fans!
Progventure Part 1: Textures, The Ocean - The Garage, London, United Kingdom, 25.11.2011
Progventure Part 3: Arena, Touchstone, Haken - The Assembly, Royal Leamington Spa, United Kingdom, 27.11.2011
Written on 06.01.2012 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.
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