REVIEW: Pure Love at The Haunt, Brighton – ‘Rock Of All Ages’

Rock music, riot songs and raucous crowds may be largely associated with youth culture but as Pure Love impressed a diverse audience of teenagers and those old enough to be their parents, the ageist myth was debunked.

As well as dedicating a cover of The Undertones classic ‘Teenage Kicks‘ to all “the over 40s” in the room, front man Frank Carter conducted a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in honour of a 48-year-old crowd member called Neil. As the fan stood with his arm draped across the lead singer before attempting to stage dive (for the second time that night), it was clear that you don’t have to be “the young and the unimpressed” to be part of ‘The Handsome Devil’s Club‘.

From the off-set, it was clear that Pure Love‘s appearance was going to be one that all in attendance, regardless of age or occupation, would enjoy. Their set had only just begun when Carter crowd surfed and adopted the bar as a second stage. After thanking bar staff for pouring him a drink mid-performance, the singer asked the crowd to take him back to the traditional performance area – without spilling a drop of his newly refilled drink. Carrying him like an ant with a precious leaf, his followers obliged and carefully propped him back where he naturally belongs.

The Monday night show continued to thrive on audience interaction with the band’s drum kit being set up in the middle of the standing area, with a circle pit surrounding. The continous stream of fans – both young and ‘old’ – jumping from the stage was perhaps excessive. At times, it felt like you were watching a mash-up of The X Factor and Splash!, except with better music and better diving too (sorry Tom Daley), but the band can’t be blamed for their over-enthusiastic fans.

There were times when Pure Love‘s music was in danger of being lost amongst the antics, but that was the something the band were more than aware of. Openly admitting to being most concerned about the ‘vibe’ of the gig, Carter let some lyrics slip and left some lines for the crowd to sing themselves – but it really didn’t matter. This wasn’t some talentless pop commodity spending more time gyrating on stage, than singing; this was a rock band who were loyal to their ethos and simply skipped a few words in the process, and there’s no crime in that.

A few sound issues aside, Pure Love delivered all that a fan could want from them and then some more. Not all of their crowd were young, but they were all youthful – this was the rock of all ages. Alongside the additional boost of strong support sets from South Wales’ The Vestals and London’s Turbogeist, Brighton music lovers were treated to a storming Monday evening. Plenty will want a repeat performance. “Come back again next tour, please?”

Have you seen Pure Love live?