Live Review: Ultimate Painting – London

Ultimate Painting

The Lexington, 3rd January 2017
Words: Nick Jacques

Strolling through the doors of the much-loved venue that is the Lexington, perched on a corner near King’s Cross St Pancreas Station, the aesthetics of the venue have not changed much since I last came here. A trio of Buffalo skulls still adorn the walls, curtain drapes rest by the misty windows and every bourbon under the sun awaits you at the bar. You’re half expecting someone like Biff Tannen to show up and call the shots.

Anyway, whilst waiting for the gig to start up, I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the night ahead. With the majority of people still recovering from the NYE’s celebrations and the 3rd January being the day most people go back to the daily growl after the Christmas break, it was a fair shout to think that the bands might zone out half-way through their sets due to all the excess.

However, when the first band took to the stage Girl Ray, they managed to lift our weary heads with their brand of charming sweet indie-pop. They acted as a gentle but welcoming smack across the punters’ faces. Their sound was reminiscent of The Big Moon but with a bit more restraint on the fret work and more focus on lukewarm harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. A pleasant introduction to the night’s proceedings.

Next up came a band in the more abrasive shape of The Wharves. On this showing, they may have also been feeling the effects of the Christmas and NYE but their off-kilter dynamics and similarities to the band The Drink made for intriguing viewing. Most of their tracks were built around imposing drum rolls which gave them a solid foundation. No doubt they will develop and continue to hone their craft. With a nod to The Breeders and a wink to intricate guitar work-outs, they are certainly a band you will be giving a nudge to your mate about.

Ultimate Painting were greeted with a half-spirited applause, but on this occasion it can be forgiven as there was genuine anticipation from those who had made the effort to crawl out from their winter caves to see them. The room was now pretty much packed and Ultimate Painting ceased on this moment by playing us a lively and enjoyable set. They treated us to a varied set-list which was surprisingly light on their last and critically acclaimed 3rd album Dusk. Their guitar shimmering rhythms, similar to past greats like Pavement/Velvet Underground/REM were a joy to hear in the intimate surroundings of the Lexington. I actually thought they were going to be more chilled out, particularly as their last album is a light and striped back psychedelic recording with hints of plaintive song-writing.

But they seemed determined to wake us up from our NYE hangovers and it worked a treat; their opener was a glorious semi-wig out of a tune. This is a band that showed confidence, focus and a togetherness too. They know exactly what they are doing.

There was certainly a bit more edge and bite to their live show. It combined everything from hushed harmonies, a strong and ever present mid-section (supportive drums and bass) to full-on jams that were performed effortlessly.

This could be the start of something great for Ultimate Painting. Judging from this performance and the bulk of their last album, they are taking steps in the right direction that will hopefully increase with momentum.

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