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The Red Paintings, Love Like Hate

The Red Paintings, Pic by Freya Lamont
Jun 22nd 2013 | Carley Hall
What else can one expect in honour of tonight's headliners at The Hi-Fi than a parade of alt girls and guys in their best leathers-and-pleathers goth-emo garb, or whatever the hell it is these days. In fairness, there's a good scattering of interested, curious and keen ho-hummers here to see one of the city's most unsung live acts. That in itself is testament to the curiosity they've steadily piqued over the years, and with the merch desk spruiking dolls modelled on their leading man, it's little wonder why.

It's a brisk night but there's no sign of the chill when local girly duo Love Like Hate take on their warm-up duties. Their simple set-up is deceptive – a touring drummer, Sonja Ter Horst's dulcet piano and singer and guitarist Heather Chekteri – but it packs a punch. Their post-punk pop is riven somewhere between PJ Harvey and Tori Amos, heartrending emotion shot with slivers of melodic abandonment. Songs like Not My Heart and 21 possess those wonderful intricacies that make you feel like you've known these songs for years. Credit to Chekteri's forceful but vulnerable vocals here. It's ultimately a solid set but the low-end piano and rhythm guitar strums rattle ye olde Yamaha kit to the point of distraction and it detracts from an otherwise fantastic showing.

It's been a criminally long time since we've seen Trash McSweeney and The Red Paintings dust off their costumes, but with their debut album finally on the shelf after five years in the making, all the stops have been pulled out for tonight's theatrical spectacular. Insiders know a TRP gig is no ordinary night; it's an event that gets silently drummed up to fever pitch and when it arrives no one is ever quite sure what to expect. A creepy atmospheric storm builds while two body-painted-black figures amble into place, soon followed by the old geisha vs Cossack figures of Trash and his four-piece. The lush violin and cello herald the pending onslaught of latest single You're Not One Of Them. Despite a crapload of things going on around them – those black-clad figures are now being painted by some LED-lit creatures that have shuffled onstage while the others start tackling those mandatory blank canvases – it's a precise and faultless performance. Charismatic as ever, McSweeney whips his troops into prog frenzy with Dead Adult and the Alice-themed Streets Fell Into My Window.

While they've favoured mostly new stuff, a true oldie sneaks in the back door in the midst of the encore. Redneck gets a gracious whoop from those in the know in between the drawn-out The Revolution Is Never Coming. TRP are seriously far too underrated as technically intricate players and as an encompassing live show.

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