I was lucky enough to see Warpaint last October at The Deaf Institute, and despite the addition of only one new tune, I am keen to see them again.

That gig was possibly my favourite from 2010, in my favourite venue, so there is a lot to live up to. As part of the Future Everything four day festival, Warpaint edge out both a live film score of Silent Running by 65daysofstatic, and Martyn and Daedelus performing at Jabez Clegg, as my gig of choice tonight.

The Ritz is a great venue for live bands, all lights are concentrated on the stage so there’s no need to look at the dated and sad looking cheesy nightclub décor. The layout is superb and I have a great view from the side on the balcony.

The place is pretty much full, I intended to see the support but both Alex Winston and the runtime had been changed. Three bored looking people are onstage (one appears to be a Geisha) watching a guy with nineties grunge hair get heavily involved with his guitar. Polite applause. Star Slinger fills with a DJ set while the instruments are being swapped. He plays his own soulful beats, mixed in with some speeded up Whitney Houston, while he swears into the mic.

Warpaint stroll on casually, taking everyone by surprise. The four piece seem relaxed and begin playing ‘Set You Arms Down’, the plodding bass and drums instantly mesmerise and the vocal draws you in even closer… they continue with ‘Warpaint’ and ‘Bees’ from the album ‘The Fool’. The crowd are motionless through the first three songs and the atmosphere is subdued.

‘Undertow’ is an apparent favourite; the intro has been recognised and brings the audience to life. Singers Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman stand at opposite ends, Emily occasionally basking in a bright red light of an otherwise minimally lit stage. Jenny Lee Lindberg sways playfully with her bass and draws attention away from Emily’s patchwork dungarees.
Warpaint 5
A piece of paper has been thrown onstage and an inaudible explanation leads to the singing of happy birthday (?). ‘Composure’ follows, the mood appropriately lifted with an increased tempo. ‘Billie Holiday’ didn’t feature at The Deaf Institute despite enthusiastic requests, so this may be an attempt to put things straight. The four harmonise over a simple guitar riff until it fades leaving only their voices. Beautiful.

New song ‘Jubilee Real’ briefly continues the melancholy with a bass solo. It’s reminiscent of Radiohead or early U2, when the drums and guitar kick in (a compliment in my opinion), another effortlessly addictive, groovy, memorable tune.

‘Elephants’ is “about ghosts” and is the highlight for me. Spine tingling. It’s all about the bass and military drumbeat, interrupted by thrashing guitar and sassy vocals. Dancing begins, a well-timed increase of pace from drummer Stella Mozgawa impresses further. Afterwards, Emily thanks Manchester for all the great music we’ve made. Don’t mention it.

An extended version of ‘Beetles’ finishes the set, playing well beyond the end of the lyrics and reminding me of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’. The crowd are loud in their appreciation as usual and Warpaint leave us encore-less, before the house lights add to our disappointment by exposing the eighties décor.

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.