Very few artists can intrigue you enough to want to listen to them just be seeing their picture but recently when standing outside the Green Note my eyes were taken by the picture of a skinny white shirted troubadour with a thin black tie, looking straight at me as if daring me to come along and see them. The accompanying blurb had a quote mentioning Gillian Welch, and so with interest piqued, made a mental note to check them out at a later date. Some weeks later I finally got to checking out the latest album by the person in the poster, s stunning piece of work “Back In The Ring”, by someone I’d never previously heard of but who had released three albums and a number of EP’s, they also had a name that somewhat rolled off the tongue – Chris Pureka.
With the Green Note sold out, it was time to once again visit The Stables at Milton Keynes. The stage in the second room was simply set out, two empty chairs, stage left had an electric guitar and bass, while stage right had both an electric and acoustic guitar. Two more chairs had amps balanced on them while beneath the right hand chair sits a tambourine. Pre show, Chris was to be seen walking around the foyer, in rolled up trousers, sporting a buttoned up shirt and a cap, almost a picture of Dickensian chic which was as well as tonight we had come with Great Expectations.
Taking to the stage with minimum fuss, tuning turned to strumming of the acoustic guitar and before we knew it we had started with “Tinder” from “Back In The Ring”, almost a soundscape with strong vocals delivered with seemingly the absolute minimum of effort, Reassuringly at the end she was to reveal that this absorbing opener was not about the perils of online dating. Switching to electric guitar there was a beautiful opening to “Holy”, the space on the album version perfectly preserved in this live format with some excellent gently picked out additions from support guitarist and backing vocalist Ryan Traster who make a number of telling contributions throughout the evening.
Ryan was to provide some excellent bass for the next song “Barn Song” from her album “How I Learned To See In The Dark”. Chris was to be a charming host with a wry sense of humour reeling off stories of their adventures earlier in the tour in Holland or in the introduction to “California” with its gentle guitar as being the “closest to a love song” that she does. The next song “Shipwreck”, with a pulsing bass in the chorus, and some expressive guitar work and vocals from Chris had the feel of the sea swirling about it!
By the time we reached “Cabin Fever” it was hard to reconcile the solemn looking person I’d first in the Green Note poster with the gently smiling person in front of us regaling the trials and tribulations of playing on television in Holland. The song once again saw Ryan exquisitely picking out some guitar parts to accompany the song. No disrespect intended but it is hard to imagine booking Chris for your wedding, but such was the lead in story as to how the next song had been created, I’ll have to take a guess it was called “Carry Me Home”, it certainly seemed to be fitting, in the end. One thing about Chris’s songs is that you can never assume the title, the extremely expressive performance that accompanied the next song never immediately suggested it was “Song For November”.
The heat was causing Chris to have to run her fingers through her quiff in readiness for the beautifully gentle guitar melody that accompanied the dark lyrics of “Aug 28th” that kept the audience absolutely hooked to each line. For the final two songs it was back to the latest album as they cranked up the sound, well as much as they could with an additional tambourine for “Betting On The Races” and the utterly hypnotic title track “Back In The Ring” with its uplifting message to keep on going. A wonderful evening for those at The Stables and for fans in Nottingham and Sheffield make sure you do not miss out on something special, while for those going to the Green Note let me assure you a great night out is guaranteed.