Gig review: Warpaint/All We Are, Leeds O2 Academy

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The story of All We Are sounds a bit like the start of an old joke: a Norwegian, a Brazilian and an Irishman walk into a university in Liverpool...

They describe their sound as “Bee Gees on diazepam” and their drowsy disco does the soundbite justice. They met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and their delay-drenched, loop-pedaling, bass-heavy grooves display a diligent understanding of how to mould brilliant, blissed-out pop. They’re equally adept at mixing a progressive 7/4 mind-melt with the sort of funk licks Prince would be proud of. Visually, they’re just as splendid: Guro Gikling looking demure with flayed white hair and an oversized bass, a standing drummer and exquisite, breathy three part vocals. Expect great things.


Warpaint are Los Angeles’ anti-Haim - an all girl group who swap modern pop structures for an abstract, almost meandering sound, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is always a creeping sense of the unknown lurking somewhere within their music; a journey which can take unexpected turns at a moment’s notice. At times we’re in a noodling Foals-like indie charge with disco beats; the next we’re settling into a low-fi, practically acapella lullaby of the Motown hit My Guy. The overriding theme is one of a tripped-out jam with reverb, dry ice and mood lighting clouding everything. Even when they encourage the crowd to dance, their offering is the gloom groove of Love Is To Die - a great track, but it’s hardly Get Lucky, is it? Undertow is the moment all the camera-phones come out, and the girls seem bowled over by Leeds’ love. They’re an eclectic, esoteric taste - quite a distance from the mainstream artists performing at the Brit Awards tonight - so I can understand why they appear humbled. But over the past decade they have become torchbearers in a particular brand of psychedelic shoegaze, and they’re bewitchingly good at it.

Gig date: February 19 2014

Sparks last performed in Leeds in 1975. Picture: Philippe Mazzoni

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