Manchester’s Albert Hall was full to the brim for the arrival of L.A. art rockers Warpaint, before that the capacity crowd witnessed a support slot from locals Aldous Robinson. They eased the audience in with their funk inspired style and the lead singers impressive vocal range. As their set progressed I got more than a slight feeling that they are heavily influenced by Prince. Every track was reminiscent of Prince’s work and his influence was clear to see, even down to the purple stage lighting. The vast majority of those in attendance seemed to be thoroughly enjoying every single offering of Aldous Robinson’s set. Personally, I hated it to begin with, but as their set drew to a close they were starting to gradually win me over.
Then four very slender silhouettes appeared on stage and as they began to play “Bees” you realised it must be Warpaint. This track comes from their second album The Fool and was the first hint that they weren’t just here to showcase their new album Heads Up, they were also intent on treating the audience to select cuts from their impressive and much loved back catalogue. In fact, we had to wait until the fourth track before we heard anything from the latest album. It was the album’s title track “Heads Up” and it slotted in perfectly after old favourites “Intro” and “Keep It Healthy”, instantly proving that the new material was of the same high standard Warpaint so regularly produce.
It was at this point Warpaint began to freely express themselves a bit more and really got into their stride. During “Heads Up” bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg was jigging and swaying, swinging herself around, seemingly completely in her groove, lost in the moment. Her wandering bass lines thundered and rumbled through the room as she displayed and incredibly tight musical bond with drummer Emily Kokal, and the rest of the band. This bond is especially noticeable during the harmonies, in which all four members contribute, and they were more and more impeccable and gripping as the night progressed. These harmonies filled the room and made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
The first huge fan reaction of the gig came from a powerful performance of “Undertow”, and this is where the two members positioned to the front of the stage really started to pull focus. Theresa Wayman and Stella Mozgawa evenly share the lead guitar and lead vocal duties. These two fine musicians are in perfect sync with each other, the harmonies between them both are utterly flawless and a thing of true beauty. This whole evening served to emphasise something which I was already very aware of, Warpaint are a true collaboration of the most talented and creative individuals. Each member displayed fantastic vocals and fine musicianship, they also displayed their versatility by regularly switching roles and instruments.
In a night that was a constant stream of highlights, it was an amazing long drawn out version of “Beetles” which stood out above the rest. The breakdown was delicate and built the tension perfectly before an explosive return to the chorus. Seeing Warpaint’s live return to Manchester, after a two year absence, left you with a feeling of giddy excitement that took hours to dissipate, hopefully we don’t have to wait that long again for their return.