Last night Warpaint filled the O2 with their trademark feel-good, off-key LA vibes and we absolutely lapped it up. Seeing their third visit to Oxford, the band was touring their third album, Heads Up, released last year.
This latest visit saw a noticeable change in performance style for these four ethereal powerhouses. Spread across the stage and cushioned by twinkle lights glowing through the foliage around them, the band made the most of their space. They moved, jumped, swayed and completely owned the stage.
The bassist, Jenny Lee Lindberg, was particularly eye-catching – the way she moved and her sense of rhythm was captivating. The whole band, though, held your attention. Their relaxed confidence was palpable.
Warpaint's music itself has stepped up in tempo with this latest album, offering a more pop-like, energetic feel. These more structured songs are certainly enjoyable and got the crowd moving, but they were also arguably more simplistic than the real highs of the set, which predominantly came from the band's first album, The Fool.
'Undertow', for example, was a stand out, showing us all just how well Emily, Theresa, Jenny and Stella play off each other. Romantic with a sinister twist, it was penetratingly beautiful. 'Love Is To Die' from their eponymously named second album also stood out surprisingly well, getting the crowd really going.
'New Song', the main single from their latest album, however, was one of the weakest tracks of the night. Coming late in the set, it was nowhere near the complexity and beauty the band is capable of. All four women can clearly perform and play brilliantly – they're fascinating musicians – it just seems that on some tracks they choose not to deploy their full talents. Maybe not everything has to be so intense.
Support came from much-talked-about South London scenesters, Shame. An unmistakably Fat White Family-inspired post-punk band, they definitely had their moments. You got the feeling they really know their musical heritage, but perhaps haven't moved far beyond it (yet). Though when the singer ended up stripped down to his pants it all started to feel a bit affected.
Back to Warpaint's chilled, happy vibes though: this was a good-time gig. People were dancing and swaying, cheering and clapping. Yes some tracks lacked complexity and fusion, but nobody stopped dancing and the real highs of the night served to perfectly showcase Warpaint for the hypnotising talents they are.
(This review first appeared on Daily Info.)