Warpaint – Birmingham Institute

Warpaint - Birmingham Institute


Our eyes will twinkle in their spheres till they return

Despite the brace of new tunes, Warpaint’s latest UK tour is essentially a victory lap for last year’s feted, self-titled second album. And tonight, fans in Birmingham have brought their party hats. “People rag on this city,” guitarist Theresa Wayman says, “but I like it a lot… so people need to shut the fuck up!” Cue uproar.

Alas, technical issues threaten the exuberant air. Scuppered by miscues, openers ‘Warpaint’ and ‘Undertow’ bypass their on-record brilliance, before new track ‘No Way Out’, a dark, jazzy lullaby, drags across seven aimless minutes. Still, it’s greeted like an old friend: the crowd erupt into yelping fits, and as much hip-waggling as the rammed floor allows.

Luckily ‘Composure’ recaptures the magic, singer and guitarist Emily Kokal twirling her mic like a lasso, and Theresa’s ‘Love is to Die’ – which comes with a preceding homily to Birmingham’s canals – invites an adoring singalong. Summiting the set is ‘Keep it Healthy’, which unspools like a manuscript from some Gaelic tomb, before the teasing playground chants of ‘Disco // very’ tap into an old-school hip-hop bounce that animates balding dads and hip teens alike.

After stomping fans threaten to collapse the balcony, Warpaint return for an encore with ‘I’ll Start Believing’, the night’s second new song. It’s only the second time they’ve ever played the track and they seem positively mischievous, chanting an alarmingly chipper chorus – “I’ll start believing in you now!” – with gimlet-eyed glee. Could it suggest a straighter, potentially punky new direction? An intriguing thought, but either way, Emily’s spellbound aura doesn’t budge. As closer ‘Biggy’ winds down, she hovers over the front barrier, like Juliet on her balcony, and stares deep into the crowd with an expression of total fascination. To paraphrase a besotted Romeo, our eyes will twinkle in their spheres till they return.