The Castle & Falcon
Review by Mark Wakeman
Pumarosa are a band I’ve been keen to see live for a while as I’ve heard many good things about them. However a combination of gig clashes and the band’s increasing popularity had meant that I had yet to see them in person. So when the opportunity came I immediately jumped at the chance to review the show.
The support was Jessica Winter, a singer-songwriter from Portsmouth but now hailing from London. Seeing a keyboard set up at the front of the stage I assumed she might be a pleasant keyboard playing traditional singer as I hadn’t heard of her before. But I was certainly wrong.
Jessica entered the stage clad in a long black coat and with her hoodie up and started performing her set in shadowy darkness. Her appearance and moody entrance immediately reminded me of recent Indie Midlands gig headliner Gazel but with a darker vibe.
Jessica played dark distorted electronica to a wonderfully weird backing track along with some rather impressive keyboard playing of her own. With hand and mic movements reminiscent of Dave Berry performing ‘The Crying Game’ she was certainly captivating to watch.
Such was the intensity of her opening number when she broke character to say hello, no-one initially responded as they thought she was going into her second number.
The set was reverb heavy which maybe wasn’t so intended as I initially thought. Jessica was so enigmatic and her music wonderfully weird that it is hard to describe. I noted down a cross between Kate Bush, Mark Wirtz’s ‘A Teenage Opera’ and the Smash robots from the old 70’s & 80’s TV advert.
When she had finished Jessica called me over to the stage and asked me if I thought her set was reverb heavy. I said yes but pointed out that I hadn’t heard any of her stuff before so I couldn’t really judge her.
I don’t know why she performed with her hood up and in the shadows as she certainly hasn’t in online clips and was a cheery and confident person to talk to so didn’t seem shy.
To really get a good handle on her potential I’d need to see her live again as she must have had sound issues but she was certainly a different and enigmatically original performer.
Pumarosa took to the stage to a sizeable and appreciative crowd likely to be well into three figures. Lead singer Isabel Munoz-Newsome in her jeans and cropped green jumper with her long blond curls looked rather like a young Sheryl Crow.
Backed by an excellent band of guitarist, bass, drums and keys, Isabel was a ball of energy with flailing limbs as she stalked the stage. With new album ‘Devastation’ only released a couple of weeks ago the set was always going to be largely built around this. But anyone seeing the band for the first time like me would not have known which were the newer or more established tracks as they were all warmly received and nothing sounded out of place.
‘Into The Woods’ and ‘I See You’ were interspersed with older favourites ‘Honey’ and ‘Red’ before Isabel and the boys really got stuck into their newer material. It was clear that ‘Devastation’ as well as being a great album also sounds just as good live as the band powered through ‘Virtue’, ‘Adam’s Song’ and ‘Heaven’.
‘Priestess’ was clearly an established live favourite as it was warmly received, before the band continued with new song ‘Fall Apart’. ‘Lose Control’ was particularly epic and probably the highlight of an excellent set before the band slowed things down a bit to end with the new album’s title track which although introduced as a ballad built into a great rocker.
Although Isabel is clearly the focal point of the band all the guys were excellent musicians as they delivered a great hour’s plus worth of rock music. It was also nice to see a diverse crowd ranging in age from teenagers to people into their 60’s.