A brash wave of juicy synthesizers and heavily distorted vocals grew in sound and texture as I was drawn into the Opera Theatre lair at the early start time of 8:30pm for PVT’s no supports, no holds barred show on opening night of Vivid Live.
Light Up Bright Fires exploded with deep, dense synthesizers, engulfing the room completely, broken by lead singer Richard Pike’s echoing vocals that lingered heavily in the air momentarily before being swallowed by that all-encompassing synth. Richard’s increasing use of vocals on newer material captures his hauntingly low tone, throwing itself to different corners of the room, and the inside of the skull, with a barrage of sounds ranging from animalistic jaunts to cries of torment and despair. Quite often, particularly in the new material, a dark, haunting atmosphere envelops their sound, forced deeper by the brooding brass section, and a minimalistic use of moody lighting.
Occasionally, PVT would explore a stretch of minimal sound, only to transform it into a roving wall of brash rhythmic innovation, with dense layering of electronics and percussion. In these moments, PVT would explore the kind of ‘structured improvisation’ that made their earlier releases so enigmatic and engaging. The energy was further enhanced by pulsating strobes, which unleashed their fury completely in time with the beat in blasts of crimson colour.
Expert lighting synchronisation complemented the mood of each song perfectly, creating a visual and aural harmony that enhanced the experience to complete musical immersion. O Soundtrack My Heart lay at the very crux of this experience, when an apocalyptic sun-like orb of light appeared and saturated the entire room with colour, tinting and distorting the moving silhouettes of the band members, ebbing and changing colour in time with the rhythm.
The new songs showcased a wider use of vocals, with a darkness that draws similarities to Ian Curtis, and even Noel Fielding (of the Mighty Boosh) with one particular new track exclaiming ‘I am electric. I am electric’ with a distinct whimsical air. Their distinct 80s influence occasionally delves into the more predictable realm of pop with more catchy vocal hooks and drum fills, which may detract from their roots a little, feeling more accessible, but less engaging than any of the old material. An understated duet with Sophia Brous on a more down-tempo number seemed slightly out of place against the high octane energy of material from previous records, but flowed well nonetheless.
A particularly memorable moment arose when PVT came back on stage for an encore and noticed some people streaming to the exits, quipping “we caught you leaving”, which drew laughter from those who’d stayed in their seats, and sheer awkwardness from those halfway to the door. Encore track Window did justice to an enigmatic live show that balanced visual elements and sound perfectly, resulting in sheer indulgence for the open mind.
A standing ovation well-deserved.