Purple, live in London

Colourful Texan punk poppers give Camden the antidote to complaint rock

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It’s a tough life, this being-in-a-band lark. Getting to do what you love for a living, seeing the world, having sex, booze and drugs on tap, and fans hanging on your every word. Or so it would seem to watch a lot of ‘artists’ at work. Sure, it’s all part of the projecting the correct brand image and all that, but it’s not unusual to see musicians on stage looking as invigorated as if they’ve been ordered to clean the school toilets with a toothbrush.

So there’s something truly life-affirming about seeing Texan trio Purple, playing to a room of 50-odd curious strangers on a wet Tuesday night, with grins on their faces the size of the Rio Grande, looking like they’ve just been handed the keys to a planet full of unbridled rock’n’roll joy.

You suspect they’re not the shyest of young debutantes when star of the show Hanna Brewer – a singing drummer with lilac hair – comes on clad in a sparkly sequinned bra and lurches into their recent single Wallflower with the gusto of a whirling dervish in a doggy paddle race. Either side of her, lanky bassist Joe Cannariato and and guitarist/singer Taylor Busby lock into a fierce, coruscating garage rock groove as if wigging out at their own private rock festival. You suspect there could be 10 people here or 10,000 and they’d still be fixated on each other and lost in the thrill of making music, as if it were an invisible force field.

Either way, us onlookers are soon up for gatecrashing the party, once galvanised by the aforementioned blitzkrieg of punk pop energy and some instantly infectious tunes. Highlights tonight are the boy-girl turbo-harmonies on Beach Buddy and the final, epic (well, by their usually short, sharp standards) thunder through DMT’s anthem to outsider-dom (“I like to drink and wear bikinis… I am a Christian and an atheist”), but you’re struck throughout that for all their blustering demeanour, they’re a super-tight trio of musicians. Hanna’s beaming face seems to say “Look mom, playing drums and singing! At the same time!”, while Joe’s finger-style bass adds extra urgency to Taylor’s wild, lacerating riffs.

Nonetheless, it’s all something of a whirlwind to witness. Tonight’s show lasts barely 25 minutes, with no encore – something of a rehearsal for the short set they’ll be playing on their upcoming UK tour opening for The Subways – but you don’t see anyone moaning. And forget showers, dressing rooms or fancy hotels – the band are straight off stage into the crowd making new friends with beers in hand, their self-evident lust for life extending far beyond music. And at this rate, they’ll be making so many of them they might want to warn Facebook to upgrade their account.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock