Report: Warpaint, Wild Beasts & George Ezra At Mercury Sessions

Clash sneaks behind the scenes...

It’s a curious experience watching a live performance be filmed.

Half way between a gig and a video shoot, it manages to absorb traits from both without fully giving way to either.

Branching off from the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, the Barclaycard Mercury Sessions bring together some phenomenal bills in central London. George Ezra opens proceedings, and it’s easy to see why the fresh-faced songwriter has so bewitched Radio 1.

Still young enough to be endearingly bashful, his guitar playing nods towards Delta blues and country, but remains essentially in the pop sphere. ‘Budapest’ is, naturally, the stand out and was actually written before George Ezra had ever visited the city. Of course, with his material racing across the globe, the songwriter has finally had a chance to rectify that.

Nary putting a foot wrong across the past decade, Wild Beasts certainly aren’t about to start now. Performing a set that draws primarily on their recent album ‘Present Tense’.

By now used to play substantially larger venues, it’s a curious sight to watch the Kendal group shrink to rather more intimate surroundings. Yet they manage it, with the intimate, starkly emotional nature of their material being driven home in such surroundings. ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ has rarely sounded so fragile, so human.

The momentum is with Warpaint. The band’s recently released second album stands neatly on the shoulders of their acclaimed debut, sparking some of the Los Angeles group’s biggest shows to date.

It’s a treat then, to watch those broad, luscious brushstrokes come into clarity. Retaining an easy-going charm, Warpaint focus on their still sparkling self-titled LP with ‘Love Is To Die’ jettisoned with an extremely pointed sense of purpose.

Teething tech issues force the band to record another song, and – perhaps as a reward for those watching – they choose ‘Undertow’. Smiling and joking openly about the amount of times they’ve performed the song, Warpaint nonetheless deliver something which is truly special; half-playful, half-serious and wholly absorbing.

Words: Robin Murray

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