I don’t remember exactly when I came across The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart for the first time. It must have been right when Kip Berman and his friends had just started making music together and dropped their self-titled 2009’s debut album, a record that still brings vivid images to my mind. Needless to say, the idea of seeing Kip and his touring band headlining one of my favourite venues in London – Hackney’s Oslo – excited me quite a lot. Especially with a new album on the horizon (‘The Echo Of Pleasure’ will be out in July), that will perhaps mark a crucial point in the history of The Pains.
It’s a bright and warm late afternoon when I make it from London Fields to Hackney. There are a couple of interesting support acts I don’t know anything about on the bill, so I decide to show up at the venue quite early and Oslo is already decently crowded when I step in. Two guys climb the stage quite soon, one of them is Adrian Galvin, vocals/guitar for the New York City-based synth pop project Yoke Lore. His vocal timbre vaguely reminds me of Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell but don’t get me wrong, Yoke Lore’s sound it’s a completely different story. The setlist goes through the main chapters of the project’s early production, including the latest offering, ‘Goodpain’, a painfully beautiful (pardon the pun…) track still stuck in my head after a few days. Well done, really.
Night Flowers take the stage right after and play that kind of indie pop that is simple yet absolutely captivating. Their sound draws comparisons to the likes of The Jesus And Mary Chain and Echo & The Bunnymen, right there where dream-pop and shoegaze-ish guitars meet. They play a fair bunch of their singles, announcing that the debut album is set to be released by the end of summer.
It’s just half past nine when Kip Berman’s Pains Of Being Pure At Heart take the scene. The show starts and it’s all as I was expecting it to be. The frontman is in great shape and plays the first few songs of his set bringing the excitement to high levels. Oslo starts dancing and jumping, whilst waves of guitar indie pop seem to shake the venue. ‘Until She Explodes’, ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ and ‘The Body’ are the first highlights of a night that will soon bring to the audience also the vibes of hits like ‘Young Adult Friction’ or ‘The Body’ from 2011’s album ‘Belong’.
With a new LP due out soon, Kip takes the chance to heartfully thank everyone, also mentioning his little daughter’s arrival, an event that changed his life last year. He’s genuinely smiley and looks almost shy when in front of his London fans, showing gratitude and pride for “having been able to be back in this amazing city once again, after a while”. ‘Anymore’, taken from his forthcoming ‘The Echo Of Pleasure’, is amongst the few unreleased songs he plays live, before the last part of the setlist, that includes the majestic ‘A Teenager In Love’, the brand new ‘When I Dance With You’ and the noisy ‘Eurydice’, beside ‘Everything With You’. Then, the grand finale. Kip makes it to the stage initially alone for an electro-acoustic number. He finally draws the curtain on his show with his ‘Belong’, that brings everyone in the venue together again, as if in a gigantic sonic hug.
And there I am, smiling in the middle of a sweaty crowd, staring at the stage and thinking that, after all, it’s true: it takes some pain, to be pure at heart. But it’s worth it, oh yes it is.