On The Way To Greatness
The concert at the O2 Forum Kentish Town was a chance to see one of the most talked about acts of 2016, Pvris (pronounced Paris). The fans, there in large numbers and fizzing with expectation were mainly, but not exclusively, teenage girls. As the father of one of those girls I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about.
Support acts have a hard job at most concerts, especially in the opening slot, but local band Bones came on stage full of attitude, talent and humour. Lead singer Rosie has a really impressive voice with a big range and enough power to rise above Carmen’s great guitar playing and the drumwork of The Beat.
The band already have a strong set of self-penned songs with a vein of sardonic humour running through them. ‘Girls can’t play guitar’, was a riposte to a comment from a man in a Camden pub who saw them live early on. That man was dead wrong and they answered him in the best way possible. This is a group you will hear a lot more about and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them headlining this venue in a couple of years.
Californian rapper K-Flay has a stage persona that reminds me of another front-woman, Souixsie from Souixsie and the Banshees. Her two band members gave her a solid base and she gave an increasingly assured performance that went up a notch when Pvris’ lead singer took part in a drum duet. When her voice was given time and space it had a jazzy feel that was really intriguing.
When Pvris hit the stage the crowd went wild and the first two songs ‘Smoke’ and ‘Mirrors’ were a suitably energetic start. However, it was ‘St. Patrick’ that sent the crowd into raptures and had everyone singing along for the first time but definitely not the last.
Midway through the set lead singer Lyndsey Gunnulfsen changed the mood with two gorgeous ballads, ‘Only Love’ and ‘Ghosts’ where she combined her voice perfectly with the beautiful guitar work of Alex Babinski. Both songs sent the hairs up on the back of my neck. That she had the confidence to follow this with the loud and proud ‘Holy’ showed the quality of the group.
Gunnulfsen is a serious talent with a voice that showed a beauty and vulnerability on the ballads that was hugely affecting before she rose above the crunching bass of Brian MacDonald and the muscular drum playing of Justin Nace and dominated the venue with her sheer power. She combined this with a tight hold on her adoring fans, shown most clearly when she gently asked them to put their phones away for one song and enjoy the experience for real instead of through a screen, and 99% of the crowd obeyed instantly!
She came across a genuinely nice person whose communication with the audience was unforced and mercifully free of the clichéd ‘Hey London, how you doing?’ lines that singers use to get a cheer. She must also be just about the only lead singer that has got through an entire concert without swearing for effect! She is obviously incredibly grateful to her fans for the success they are bringing the group and they in return clearly worship her. She is an incredible role model and an inspiration to any young woman.
The encore of ‘You and I’ and ‘My House’ brought the evening to a rousing end. Make no mistake, Pvris are going to be massive and their next tour will fill arenas around the country. There will be jaw dropping sets and massive pyrotechnics but at its heart will be Lyndsey Gunnulfsen a young woman with talent to burn and fantastic musicians that give her a wall of sound which she scales with ease.
I’m really glad I got the chance to see Pvris in a smaller venue because I can’t imagine that the atmosphere at the O2 itself could possibly beat what I saw at the O2 Forum Kentish Town.