Blue Rinses and Glitter
PINS live at The Hope


The Hope & Ruin, Brighton - 25th February 2015
Head four or five years into the past and the audience at any alternative gig in Brighton would largely consist of the original indie kids, the now forty- or fifty-somethings for whom music is not just the most important thing in life, but the force that informs their style and attitude and has more than a little say in the picking of their friends. It was this generation who helped live independent music survive the dark times (and there were some really dark times); this generation who bought (and still buy) the records; this generation who would rather be cast into the deepest pits of hell where X-Factor wannabees bite at their toes rather than spend the evenings rotting in front of the television waiting for bits of them to drop off while their brains slowly slide out of their ears like so much useless mush. The alternative renaissance over the past few years has seen this change. Gigs are more often than not packed to the rafters with younger faces and this has been great to see. Of course, this may be a passing fad and it is impossible to guess how many of them will still be turning up at the city's small venues thirty years down the line to thrill at the emergence of new talent with new sounds. We desperately hope that many of them will, but by then most of us will be dust, or at best gathering it...

The older generation are out in force tonight as Manchester's PINS return to the venue they last graced in October 2013. Emerging from its recent revamp, the bar at The Hope has been moved away from the side to the back of the hall leaving far more room in front of the stage and it looks great. More importantly there are new air conditioning units so hellish nights pouring sweat have hopefully been banished to the past. More people have turned up than sixteen months previously, but the demographic is interesting. It means that PINS have not yet captured the hearts of the younger generation but have earned the respect of the diehards, and for all the band's recent efforts in lightening their image, it is only the music that will count today. Nonetheless, Lois Macdonald's blue rinse seems amusingly ironic.

It seems curfews have been pushed backwards slightly as well as PINS are not appearing until ten, with three bands filling the bill. Dream Wife are first on stage, peculiarly an art degree fantasy project that became a reality, and the three-piece (with no drummer) produce a fine set of angular pop songs that sets up the evening admirably. As with the main act, Dream Wife understand that a band should look like a band and act like a band, and they really are terrific, with skewed guitars and biting lyrics smothered in a coating of sugary goodness. This band will kill you with a smile on their face and you can't ask for more than that.

PINS have given out party packs to the early arrivals in the audience, containing a sticker, lollipop and party popper, all sealed with a silver heart in a paper bag. However, this evening is no hedonistic celebration but one of the first occasions on which they will have played the tracks from their new album, so there are doubtless nerves. And it's a different band we are seeing on stage. A fifth PIN, Kyoko Swan, has been added to the line-up, playing keyboards, guitar and tambourine at different stages throughout the evening, while bassist Anna Donigan is absent, still recovering from a bad leg injury sustained in a cycling accident. She is replaced for the night by Becky White and though it seems strange seeing the band play without Donigan, White proves to be a more than able deputy and moves with such exquisite grace it really is quite mesmerising.

Faith Holgate continues to develop as a frontwoman. She exudes confidence these days and has a style all of her own. Though with a guitar in her hands she moves exactly like a young Susanna Hoffs (and the Bangles before they hit it big were a bloody fantastic guitar band), when without it she remains unconventional and it's a surprise when she wanders off into the audience during the band's finale (god, we live in gentler times). At other moments she cosies up with Macdonald or White, annoys drummer Sophie Galpin, treads on the guitar she has left lying on the stage, or bops in slow motion as the band crash around her. All five musicians are sporting glitter under their eyes; PINS don't sound glam though their look has certainly become more glamorous and the new songs are far poppier than those on Girls Like Us. It's not a total turnaround. There are still big guitars in there and Galpin's primal drumming prevents it all from becoming too light, though the tribal backing wails are now more 'ooh' than 'oh-o' and the shadows dance rather than conceal.

Happily, none of this has altered the band's belief one shred. Macdonald shouts out every word even when she is away from the microphone and often Galpin is also singing along. It's the belief that grabs you, the undoubting self-affirmation that is so important to this band and the reason why PINS may just forge a lasting career in this shady business. They are not only good, and look the part, but they believe it. To their very core. And while the kids may not have caught on yet, there are plenty of knowing nods as this audience trails out. PINS aren't going away any time soon.

PINS goodies
Words: Adam Hammond
Photos by Guy Christie
Latest Reviews
Inca Babies live at The Hope, 1st November 2014
Review of the Year 2014
The Jesus & Mary Chain live at The Troxy
Dream Wife and PINS live photos
Facebook Link
Isolation Home