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Review: Warpaint/All We Are/Liverpool O2

John D Hodgkinson is swept away by some proper, full-on girl power

Written by . Published on February 25th 2014.

Review: Warpaint/All We Are/Liverpool O2

WHAT is produced within the hallowed portals of LIPA doesn’t usually appear on my radar, for some reason. On the evidence of All We Are’s set, this could be my loss. 

The trio, based at the “fame school”, describe themselves as "the Bee Gees on Diazepam", a description not only too good to ignore, but not a million miles from the truth either. 

Guitar patterns cascade like shooting stars
around this ambient soundscape and
ricochet around the hall before fading
into the ether, like Echo pining for Narcissus

This multinational trio ( bassist Guro Gikling is from Norway, drummer Rich O'Flynn from Ireland and guitarist Luis Santos from Brazil) make a gloriously dreamy noise. Luis spends as much time on his knees pulling switches and thwacking effects pedals as he does playing in the conventional way. His swathes of sound are drizzled with sharp harmonies and a hypnotic pop sensibility. Don’t just take my word for it, have a listen to their wistful, beguiling single Utmost Good. 

If I were a female of between 16-20 years old, and there are plenty here tonight, Warpaint would make me want to form my own band. While it may be possible to trace their lineage back to 1980s bands such as Delta 5, The Au Pairs and The Raincoats, the space that they occupy is very much their own. 

All We AreAll We Are

Visually, the LA foursome are striking. Emily Kokal rules the right side of the stage, blonde, tall, and Tilda Swintinesque Kokal sways gently, all wistful elegance and expressive hand gestures. 

Therese Wayman floats between her keyboards and percussion as well as the guitar and microphone. Bass player Jenny Lee Lindberg is the most animated, bobbing and twirling within the multi layered rhythms that she and drummer Stella Mozgawa create for Emily and Therese to weave their hypnotic, aural callisthenics around. 

From the brief opener Intro then into Keep It Healthy, they draw you in with their mesmerising cascades of guitar and trance-like vocals. 

The slower song Hi is a plaintive affair and elicits a broodier side to the band’s more intense blankets of sound. Undertow, the single taken from the first album The Fool, comes over as more forceful, allowing space for Warpaint to loosely improvise before bringing it all back home. Guitar patterns cascade like shooting stars around this ambient soundscape and ricochet around the hall before fading into the ether, like Echo pining for Narcissus.


Then there is Composure with its enigmatic (obscene, if we are to believe the fansites) chant at the start of the song, before rumbling in on a wave of bass.

Billie Holliday is taken from the debut EP, Exquisite Corpse, which the band sees as the elder sister of their full debut, The Fool.

It starts with the title being spelled out, before morphing into Mary Wells’ My Guy. Amid the rest of the set’s collision of ambient soundscapes, it should seem incongruous, but it works perfectly and the song’s tender lullaby enhances the dreamlike quality of the set. 

There is a brief moment of confusion when Stella starts to play a different song to the rest, only to discover that the set had been changed and everyone knew apart from her! Disco//very has a faster pace with a driving beat and is the nearest that Warpaint get to dance music. 

For the first encore, Drive drifts in reflectively with harmonics ringing and electro percussion popping. Elephants, also from Exquisite Corpse, and featured in the 2011 horror film Siren, builds gently before eventually fading leaving only Emily’s gentle picking to be heard. Jenny and Stella catch each other’s eye and pick up the tempo which builds and builds until the glorious apex. Then, seemingly, all of a sudden, they’re gone. So lost are we in the intense ambience they created, it comes as a bolt from the blue when they finish. 

Warpaint remain a band of contradictions. There is something distinctly 1980s new wave about their inspirations, yet they remain unafraid to display a prog-rock side. Through all of this they have created a sound that is daisy-fresh. 

Expect a plethora of young female bands to spring up in their wake.


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Paul PastorFebruary 26th 2014.

Lovely review - and once again, made me wish I'd been there to enjoy it.

Reader XxxMarch 11th 2014.

Good writing John Hodge Frank C-B

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 11th 2014.


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