Published Oct 25, 2015Three years ago, when Purity Ring last played the Halifax Pop Explosion, the Marquee Club filled up so quickly that many of the band's fans weren't able to get in. This year, in the much larger Forum Multipurpose Room, there was room for any and all who wanted to take in the duo's colourful, fuzzed-out electro-pop soundscapes.
"It's lovely to be back home," said vocalist Megan James, who lived in Halifax during the recording of the band's debut album, Shrines. "It's kind of the same as always. I almost cry when I say that. It's so lovely."
James introduced the subsequent performance, Another Eternity's "Push Pull," as "a song about leaving Halifax." The track was one of several where the instrumental accompaniment — orchestrated by bandmate Corin Roddick from behind a suite of lit-up orbs activated with drumstick hits — felt almost overwhelming. One of the more compelling aspects of Another Eternity is how James' unearthly vocals move to the forefront of the mix, but in the large Multipurpose Room, they almost had to fight their way through the beats. The show also felt somewhat lacking in dynamics: moment to moment, the arrival and retreat of Purity Ring's tones excite, but over the course of an hour-long set, the individual songs can sometimes struggle to differentiate themselves from one another.
Their best songs excepted, mind you: there's no question that Purity Ring have crafted several incredibly catchy earworms, from Shrines songs like "Crawlersout" and "Fineshrine" to set closing highlight "Begin Again." James danced and sang with focus and physical ferocity, her sharp, almost robotic movements matching her cold-yet-welcoming vocal tone. As attractive and novel as Roddick's percussion lights were, it was James' engaging performance that you simply couldn't take your eyes off of.