Friday, August 27, 2010

I Blame Coco / The Traps @ The Hare & Hounds, Thursday 26th August 2010

Okay. So, there’s an elephant in the room here tonight. Not a real one obviously, how the hell would it get up the stairs eh? I’m going all metaphorical on you. It’s a huge great elephant with a patch of dyed blonde hair and a penchant for making lurve for several weeks at a time. More of that in a moment though. First up it’s The Traps. I like The Traps. Aside from the music, a jolly blend of new wave and rock, they’re one of those bands that have really got off their arses and done something. In their case they’ve set up a record label ‘Speech Fewapy’. Birmingham needs more of this. More labels, more bands, more bloggers...more of everything really...except 99p far too many of those (What? Are we made of money? 49p shops. Now that's what we need now) Tonight was a polished performance (as you’d expect from a bunch of dudes who run a record label) with plenty of head nodders (tracks that you just can’t resist nodding along my case that makes me look like I’m having a mild stroke, but I’ve got one of those heads). Anyway I urge you to check them and their label out. Aside from releasing their own fine stuff (have a listen to Honey Drip) they’re also releasing tunes by Greg Bird and Flamingo Flame (80’s pop in a bit of a Scritti Politti style) and the deliciously nuts Tom Peel.

Right, on to tonight’s headliner and, first of all let’s send that elephant packing. It can’t be easy trying to make it in the same business that your old fella ruled for a while. Coco’s dad, or Mr Sting as the rest of the world know him, was / is part of one of the most successful bands of all time (their last tour in 2007 took a piggy bank busting $358 million, making it the third highest grossing in history...that’s a nerdy pub quiz fact). But, like many other siblings of HUGE stars (Presley, Lennon,, Coco’s taken the plunge anyway. In my book that takes balls. Huge, spiky blonde haired tantric balls. She certainly seems to have put in the work. Her debut album ‘The Constant’ has been half a decade in the making (jeez...that’s a quarter of her life) and she’s been gigging like crazy in all sorts of low rent dives for the past few years to hone her performing chops so you can dismiss any of that cynical nepotism talk. Bye bye Mr Elephant.

Tonight, wearing a pair of shorts that seemed at least two sizes too big for her (and in danger of falling down at any moment) and eyeing the audience slightly apprehensively at first, she became a different animal when the music kicked off. Pacing the stage, leaning over her mic, pogoing around and getting up close and personal with the fans (well, as up close and personal as you’d want to get to them) she clearly loves performing. There is, inevitably, a distinctly Sting-ish quality to her vocal (she’s got her dad’s eyes jokes about him wanting them back again). And, as you’d expect, with major label backing and high hopes for Coco to go massive, the sound tonight was polished perfection, which perfectly suits the material she’s playing right now. Glossy 80’s pop, dripping with synths, it’s got a lot in common with Swedish pop princess Robyn who duets with Coco on arguably the best track of the night, Caesar (sadly the lovely Robyn wasn’t here tonight...probably out cage fighting). Previous single Self Machine also stuck out as a highlight as did new release Quicker (complete with plinky plonky Euro piano) which saw Coco making the most of her distinctly smoky vocals. It was a shortish set, without an encore, and I’d have liked to have seen Coco do a few more acoustic numbers (looking at You Tube videos this really gives a chance for that voice to do its stuff), but I was impressed. It’s a pretty safe bet that she (and her debut album) will be massive but somehow, deep down, I don’t reckon it’s a true reflection of what she’s capable of...or what she wants to do as she really develops. And, ultimately, that’s the really exciting prospect. For now though this is one Coco that’s well and truly ready to pop.

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