When you think of the music to come out of Liverpool in recent years you might think of Miles Kane, The Coral, The Zutons or The Wombats; all floppy hair, Beatles-inspired guitars and attitude, right? Bands from Merseyside have an uncanny knack of adopting and adapting that 60s guitar-pop sound. Scousers Stealing Sheep are a three-piece with a drummer, guitarist and keyboard player...but whatever you're thinking they might sound like, they sound nothing like that.
It's been a busy year for Lucy Mercer, Emily Lansley and Rebecca Hawley; from support slots with St Vincent, tUnE-yArDs and Field Music to sets at festivals including Camden Crawl, their debut album, Into The Diamond Sun, was eagerly awaited. It finally landed in September and didn't disappoint. A heady cocktail of sounds, it wove harmonies through complex but delicate psychedelic, electro folk.
In equal parts spooky and uplifting, the songs' moods were dictated by their vocal arrangements (the trio share lead vocals), with synths battling for pole position. It recalled a kookier Warpaint, with pronounced but breathy vocals a la Sandy Denny. But somehow they managed to make sure it didn't sound cluttered or confused - instead, it was coherent, warm and endlessly interesting.
Tonight they take to the stage in a misty haze of dry ice, with sequins, feathered jewellery and hippy head bands; their roots might confuse those trying to second-guess their sound but their look shields nothing. Their hour-long set features most of their album, punctuated with little onstage chatter (just the occasional "thanks very much!" or "this is called...") but they still manage to strike up a remarkable connection with their audience. They get lost in their own world, and we're taken with them - even towards the bar-end of the room, all eyes are glued on the stage.
Highlights include White Lies, with its irresistible, almost robotic refrain: "you say that you love me but we both know you don't", which nods towards Gaggle, with its medieval, almost pagan under-pinning. Elsewhere they look to Amnesiac-era Radiohead, with analogue synths and krautrock intricacies. As the mist lifts, things get moodier for a heavy version of Rearrange, Bear Tracks turns into a full-on rock out with Hawley thrashing into her double keyboard, while Gold descends into disco, with flashes of sequinned hotpants casting mirrored flickers onto the chandeliered-ceiling.
Shut Eye gets the biggest response of the night; it's their showcase song, their catchiest track, with thudding drums, electronic tweaks, handclaps and spectacular harmonies all at play. They ignore pleas for a Christmas song, instead returning for an acoustic encore of Shark Song - a fittingly swoonsome end to a chaotic but satisfying set, which leads their audience deathly silent.
Stealing Sheep are a band dipping into a thousand influences to carve their own sound; they're weird and wonderful and tonight's crowd loved them for it.