Ultimate Painting - Islington Assembly Hall
Touring in support of their third album Dusk, tonight’s show sees a homecoming of sorts for the duo in their adoptive hometown of London. The venue seems in fitting with Ultimate Painting’s overall vibe, beautiful vintage splendor with a modern touch, as the group launch into their understated and, albeit brief, closing set of their UK tour before their mainland Europe and U.S. dates. Support for the chilly North London night comes from London’s JC Flowers with their 60s psych pop stylings, and the Kurt Vile-esque Leif Erikson with their gentle and intricate pop tunes that threaten to become anthemic, but at times fall a little short.
It has been an interesting and swift journey for Ultimate Painting with three albums in as many years, an impressive feat for a band that is essentially a side project for frontmen James Hoare and Jack Cooper. Even in terms of live performance, chatting (as you do) at gigs, I run into someone who managed to catch them as early as last year in an approximately 100 capacity venue, making tonight's 800 capacity Islington Assembly Hall quite an upgrade. This friendly gig goer does, however, add a word of warning: “They are a bit shoe-gazey." This is clearly evident as the band take to the stage with a cursory “Thank you for coming” before kicking off with debut album opener ‘Ultimate Painting', barely a word or acknowledgement given to those in attendance. As with any group with a new album to promote, the set is Dusk heavy, and while these tracks are fantastic in their laid back and lackadaisical manner, it is the delving into their surprisingly rich back catalogue where they start to have more fun as they bookend the newer material with reworkings, extended jams, and lesser played tracks such as ‘Sweet Chris’ and ‘Ten Street’.
My fellow gig goer was not wrong, but it seems completely in keeping with Ultimate Painting’s style and influences - Lou Reed was not known for bouncing around the stage, he left that to Iggy Pop - that they still manage to command the stage and hold the attention and adoration of the audience. On this brisk October night in Islington, as they progress through their brisk one hour set, the band get more lost in the music, taking the vast majority of the audience with them.