This may not be the kind of show I typically attend, but let me just say: What a show Purity Ring put on. The stage lights alone put Fourth of July fireworks to shame.
Lydia Ainsworth, the show’s opener and tour mate of Purity Ring’s, served kind of as an appetizer for the main course. Both acts share a lot of the same music qualities, though considerably tamer on Ainsworth’s part. She was all alone on stage with just a keyboard and a microphone, and despite battling some technical difficulties and a summer cold, she glided through her set with ease and confidence. Though I will gladly admit that she was an accomplished vocalist and keyboardist, I must say that eventually her songs started blending together until her set as a whole became a little forgettable.
In contrast, Purity Ring’s set made me feel like Newport Music Hall was going to launch into space. They are a future-pop group according to their Facebook page, so that makes sense.
I just want to get my one criticism of this show out of the way, because for the most part I loved it. But holy mackerel, the lead singer’s microphone needed to be 100 percent louder. I’m not a sound expert, but I couldn’t even hear her talking into her mic between songs, so that seems like a problem to me.
The stage lighting alone deserves some attention before I delve into their performance. I meandered toward the stage with the rest of the audience to see what appeared to be a series of vines hanging from the lofty theater ceiling, with a mysterious shrouded object in the foreground. Once the main show started, those vines were revealed to be dozens of stringed lights cascading onto the stage, and the shrouded object was none other than the electro-pop duo’s famed lantern drum set. Allow me to explain. Corin Roddick, the producer and percussionist, also happens to be some kind of genius engineer wizard who fashioned himself crystal-shaped lanterns that both light up and play tones when they are struck.
So obviously, the crazy magical lantern drums were a dominant part of the duo’s performance. But wait, there’s more; in the last third of the show, suddenly they bring out stage lights that produced notes by just refracting them off a mirror. Megan James, the lead singer, put on mirrored gloves and essentially, made music with light. This was a little bit like watching actual magic. It makes sense to me that an electronic group would incorporate so many cool light things into their set; no one wants to watch a dude turn knobs and nod his head for an hour and a half.
Megan is a fantastic and entrancing performer. Despite her mic being heartbreakingly quiet compared to the piercing synths and pounding bass, I was close enough to tell that she is an adept and seasoned vocalist.
Honestly, I wish I could get over the microphone thing, but the vocals are my favorite part of Purity Ring’s music! James has a unique, ethereal and angelic voice, and I was really disappointed to miss out on it.
Purity Ring played all of the crowd favorites, such as “Fineshrine,” “bodyache,” “begin again” and “push pull.” Even if you didn’t know a single song by them, it is very hard not to move to their infectious melodies and intoxicating beats. Not to mention that bass.