“When the mists are rising and the rain is falling and the wind is howling cold across the moor”, John Leyton sang at the opening of his number one single ‘Johnny Remember Me’ back in 1961, and his words could be used to decribe the perfect environment in which to listen to Warpaint. On an uncharacteristically dark, windswept, drizzly, spring evening like this the girls’ hazy guitar music could lull a person to sleep. Not that this is a criticism – the chance to hear most of last year’s excellent album The Fool in a cozy setting is quite a tonic. Warpaint play spooked girl-group music that sounds like Faith-era Cure mixed up with the Shangri-las. Locating the band’s charm isn’t difficult. It’s in their dreamy harmonizing and their ability to incorporate Mary Wells’ ‘My Guy’ into their own song (‘Billie Holiday’) while making it sound like ‘All Cats Are Grey’.
Like the recently reformed Electrelane, Warpaint know how to space rock without forgetting to pack plenty of tunes and their nods to pop’s past accentuate the tension between their arty leanings and their melodic dexterity. Emily fidgets a lot. Jenny Lee giggles like a loon between songs. Stella and Theresa swap instruments. But if they’re a hive of physical activity on stage, it doesn’t always come across in the music. Sometimes these songs – there’s no kinder way to put it – go on a bit. Emily’s solo encore with ‘Baby’ (their most straightforward song and, for this writer, a weak point in their catalogue) strikes a chord with the packed Tripod audience but in truth Warpaint are best when they’re creating an atmosphere, as they do tonight on the incredible ‘Undertow’ and ‘Set Your Arms Down’.
For most of the show the crowd are in rapture, lost in the waves of musical bliss that wash over them. One leaves the venue with the distinct feeling of having watched a band whose time has resoundingly arrived.
Photos: Alan Moore
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