The Red Paintings - York, Fibbers - 17th February 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 04:00


I feel for struggling bands in today's climate, I really do; it must be soul destroying playing to half empty rooms let alone 20 odd people. How do you entice people away from their TVs on a cold and rainy February evening? I don't know the answer, neither do the promoters or the bands it seems, because, worryingly, this seems to be happening more often and I know it is not just York having this problem. How do we get people out to see live music?


The latest victims of the no-show gig-goers are Aussie band The Red Paintings. Led by the enigmatic Trash McSweeney, a man who has given blood, sweat and tears over a 5 year period of his life working on the epic labour of love 'The Revolution Is Never Coming'.


Live, The Red Paintings are known for their visuals, as much an art project as a band they incorporate imagery and art in their shows. Every night a local artist will paint live on stage as the band play, they also paint people, these human canvasses are recruited for each show to be painted as the band play, forming what can only be described as a real time live art show.




In my review of 'The Revolution Is Never Coming' I stated that they sound like some imaginary soundtrack to a twisted Tim Burton/Danny Elfman inspired rock opera, couple with this the art elements and the new Egyptian themed stage show I was looking forward to something special. I was expecting the night to play out like some pill-popping trip down the rabbit hole with Marilyn Manson to witness a freaked out World Slavery Tour style stage show (Iron Maiden fans will get that) on a smaller scale obviously.


On this tour The Red Paintings are a four piece band, McSweeney on vocals and guitar, a female duo on bass and electric violin respectively flank him and a live drummer brings up the rear. How they were going to recreate the sound of an album with a massive production that boasts a 35 piece orchestra and a 20 piece choir I was not too sure, but hell they do manage to pull it off. Sure it's a rawer sound compared to the lush production on the album, but these song are finely re-interpreted in a live environment.


Ok, so the Ancient Egypt themed stage show is not as grandiose as I was expecting, it simply mean the ladies wear Cleopatra costumes and McSweeney is sporting an over the top costume that resembles a cast off from the original Stargate movie, but he somehow manages to pull it off.


Older song 'Feed The Wolf' gets things going, its extended intro as dramatic as anything else I have heard from this band. 'It Is As It Was' follows, its twisted and dark melody wrapping itself around the listener's ears. 'Just People And Leaves' like some lost Smashing Pumpkins lullaby is a highlight for me, beautiful and fragile one minute then jarring and heavy the next.




Apart from the odd song introduction and thanks to tonight's artist, the stern faced singer does not really address the audience. Is his reaction simply artistic license or is he pissed at the turnout? Who knows. The girls seem happy enough though, more animated bassist Caroline Campbell smiles and holds her own as violin player Alix Kol treats us to an impressive electric violin solo with full on overdrive which was quite impressive actually making a violin rock!


The dark and twisted 'Wasps' sounds massive, all industrial beats and Manson touches it kicks like a beast and is a highlight as is 'The Revolution Is Never Coming', the song itself sounds great with with the band joining McSweeney in the chorus refrain.


The songs veer from passionate, spoken passages to guitar driven industrial angst and McSweeney's vocals are particularly impressive.


From reading past live reviews I was expecting an energetic and animated band with an over the top stage show, maybe I was expecting too much. I did really enjoy it but while the songs sounded great and the band were fascinating to watch I feel we got a stripped down Red Paintings show tonight.


We did get a girl creating art by painting on stage during the set, but there were no projections or human canvas paintings tonight which is a shame. The small turnout played a part in this I believe, and I'm sure in a packed room it would be a different story, but I wanted The Red Paintings to blow me away tonight and they were not the whirlwind of colour and sound I was expecting, more of a blustery gale, but I don't think it was the band's fault at the end of the day. Still, I highly recommend checking them out just bring a few mates with you if you can.




Photos ©Marc McGarraghy/Yellow Mustang Photography


To pick up your copy of 'The Revolution Is Never Coming' - CLICK HERE