Kosheen & some music ramblings of the electro variety

Wednesday night I made the small trek to the Academy 2 to see Kosheen in Birmingham.

Kosheen are one of the few bands I define as Trip-Hop (downtempo Electronic), though it was obvious that there were plenty of Drum & Bass aficionados there.  So it was a gig I’d been awaiting with anticipation: it’s rare for a band to combine what are now my two favourite genres of music.

Tellingly they played fewer tracks from the 2nd album  (The single “All In My Head” and album track “Wish” were the only ones I remember), with the majority from the new album and their debut.  Which made me very happy: there’s little about Kokopelli to get excited about, in my opinion it’s a typical indie album with little of interest.

Which is why the tracks from Resist stand out: it’s the perfect blend of Drum & Bass saturated with the subtle Trip-Hop vibes that define the Bristol sound that has been the mainstay of my radio shows for the last 12 months on BurnFM.com

The big surprise is that the entire room were dancing to the big tracks: “Hide U” was bizarrely played half way through the set (the obvious encore track) and “Catch” showed that the majority of the crowd were there for the D&B.

However their new material takes the band in a different direction: in my opinion it’s the direction that is Electro-Indie.  It worked very well (perhaps not as well as Cansei De Ser Sexy have managed, who made the genre their own) but it’s still a distinctive sound.

Which is why Kosheen are a unique band and should be one to see at least once; if only for Sian Evans and her dancing which carries the performance to a higher level. To me it appeared the male band members would have been happier if they could have disappeared into darkness and just made the music.  Not that it mattered as Sian was certainly making the most of the stage and her presence made it seem like she was dancing for all the people on stage.  So in terms of the performance it would make sense to have said “Sian Evans with Kosheen (aka the backing band),” as that was the impression I was left with.  But it’s easy to disregard the actual music, which was fantastic when it came from the debut and future albums: you can find out when the album is released in June or the next tour in the Autumn.

Will I see Kosheen again: probably but not without good reason.  They were, until last night, one of the few bands I wanted to see and hadn’t. 

Which is shown by my gig wall, the place where I keep all the ticket stubs from gigs I’ve been to (they go back to 2004).  The last five before Kosheen (most recent first) are Faithless, Massive Attack, Basement Jaxx (with support from CSS), Primal Scream (supported by The View) and Lordi.  That says more about my music taste than the music I’ve bought. 

So what of the previous gigs? Lordi were surprisingly impressive (as was the old male horde of headbangers) but their support (Turisas, who are apparetly “folk-metal”) stole the show with the “violin solo” which was an impressive use of amplification and skill to turn violin into guitar.  The reason I went: simply because I could, they won Eurovision (which I will be watching Saturday) and the tickets were fairly cheap. And yes, they did wear the masks.

Primal Scream were good at the time in November but I now think of it as an OK gig: their older songs were fantastic but was lacking the extravagance that the other bands I’ve mentioned have in abundance.

Which is why Basement Jaxx (and CSS), Massive Attack and Faithless showed stand out. I’ve already covered Faithless and my opinion of the Basement Jaxx gig is pretty much the same (combining Fedde Le Grand and Bodyroc midway through the set was by far the highlight, with the costme changes being a close second)  And I can say the same about Massive Attack, near perfection with the performance and a very different sound to the albums.

Which was the problem with Kosheen; it did sound as though they were rying to duplicate the album sound, which they did.  But it therefore lacked the spark of a live performance, which is why I’ll probably wait until after the next album is released before I see them again.

As for my music tastes… they certainly have changed in four years since I left school.  The majority of indie albums have been really poor.

There’s also the fact that the average age at all six gigs I’ve mentioned was well above 30, which makes for a nicer experience.  And buying tickets from eBay isn’t bad either, especially considering that I’ve not paid more than £5 over face value for a pair of tickets.  Which I can’t say about bands like the Artic Monkeys or Maximo Park; swarms of teenagers paying over the odds for tickets means that I won’t be making any effort to see them and wil instead be saving my money for Global Gathering!

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