Hidden away from plain view on a rubbish-strewn industrial estate, Manchester’s Fuhrer Bunker would easily be missed by the untrained eye. However, once you’ve negotiated your way there, you realise that it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the city. The Bunker is a shell of an old Victorian-era industrial building – its most arresting feature the wooden cage sat in the middle of the main room. This is where the bands play. There’s no stage, barely any lights, and nothing between the crowd and the performers but a latticework of wooden beams.
On the last Friday before Christmas 2012, this intriguing venue played host to local female four-piece PINS. Having played here before with Savages as part of what was one of the defining UK gigs of recent years, hopes were high that PINS would shine again. They didn’t disappoint.
Cramped into the tiny playing area, the band entered to a rapturous welcome from the 100 or so strong crowd. The tone was set for the gig with “Snow,” featuring a recitation of a poem by bassist Anna Donigan.
Playing a lengthy setlist, the band displayed their song-crafting abilities with aplomb. From the infectious “Say to Me” to closing tracks “Kiss Me Quickly (It’s Christmas)” and the brilliant “Shoot You,” there is evidently a great talent here for creating smart, stylistically cohesive songs.
PINS demonstrate disparate playing styles, from the straight-backed, low-key nature of drummer Lara Williams, to the more energetic movements of guitarist Lois McDonald. Undoubtedly though, the most intriguing performer is lead singer Faith Holgate, who maintains a fierce, almost emotionless face during her performances, although this belies the sheer force of her vocals and the emotions inflected within.
For all their differences, PINS unify on-stage to construct a finely tuned atmosphere. This band simply exudes style. Drawing you into their ultra-stylised world, they don’t let you go until the last note has rung out.
It is simply impossible to watch this band in action without picturing their rise. Catch them in venues like this while you can, and then go and see PINS in the larger venues that they deserve to be seen and heard in.