The Student’s Union at Leeds Beckett University hosted two contrasting acts in front of a capacity crowd. From the naked (at times almost literally) aggression of support act Shame to the cultured, artistic, creativity of Warpaint the basement venue was in for an assortment of treats.
The stage was neatly decorated with branches covered with fairy lights for the arrival of Warpaint, it was a backdrop which seemed completely at odds to rowdy young upstarts Shame who took to the stage first. They are in a similar vein to Cabbage with occasional flashes of Joy Division and The Fall. Noisy, angry, full of energy and seemingly indifferent towards the crowd Shame had attitude but without it crossing over into arrogance. Lead singer Charlie Steen provides a constant focal point with his punk version of strip tease. He has the on-stage mannerisms of a more energetic Ian Curtis and some of his vocals are similar to those of Curtis in “Warsaw”. During their second track he enters the crowd before throwing water over them, as the rest of the band explode on stage. Highlights of their short but ferocious set included “Friction”, “Tasteless” and “Gold Hole”.
It was then time for the explosive angst of Shame to make was for the casual brilliance of Warpaint. This tour marks the start of them beginning to leave their early material behind, as they only played one track from their debut album “Exquisite Corpse”. They opened with the title track from their latest album “Heads Up “and hit their stride early, on previous occasions watching Warpaint it has always seemed to take them a few tracks to warm up and get their harmonies in sync. They powered through the first three tracks without pause, the final of these three tracks was “Undertow” by which point the harmonies were spine tingling.
It was a set which comprised of tracks predominantly from “Heads Up “but as you stand there in the presence of such genius you realise that whatever setlist they pick from their back catalogue it is irrelevant. Each track puts you in an almost dream like state, the gorgeous vocal harmonies glide above the crowd and swirl around you making you feel like you could be floating. Whilst the wandering and funky bass, which they rotate but is usually down to the unique talents of Jenny Lee, gently rocks and sways you. However their music makes you feel don’t go to one of their gigs expecting a mosh pit or large displays of dancing. For the most part the crowd seemed to be stood in awe of their talent, and in my opinon there are very few more talented than Warpaint. The way they are on stage shows that they can perform to this incredibly high standard without fully exerting themselves. Their vocals were flawless throughout and it seemed almost effortless for them to reach this level of perfection.