Tag Archive | "Koko"

The War on Drugs – Koko, London (May 27, 2014)

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The War on Drugs – Koko, London (May 27, 2014)

Posted on 29 May 2014 by Patricia Turk

Alex Turner caused quite a bit of controversy earlier this year with his cocky comments at the Brits about ‘that rock’n’roll, eh?’ ‘It just won’t go away’, he said.

And much maligned he was too at the time, but his point, I think, was that the appeal of the proper guitar band never really dies. It just simmers away, perhaps a bit apart from what’s popular or what’s trending, to sneak up on you when you’re at the point of despair for the state of mainstream music and remind you, again, that sometimes that it’s nice to deviate from the synthy, bleepy and achingly quirky electronica, or sincere, worthy and heartfelt folkishness, to instead to just properly give over to a band that is unashamedly rock’n’roll.

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This is how I feel about The War on Drugs. And Tuesday night’s gig at Koko in Camden was a joy because it did just that – six guys on stage playing without pretence or preening, led by long-haired leading man Adam Granduciel, who looks and sounds just how a rock’n’roll man should.

TWOD have been steadily gaining traction since the release of their 2011 album, Slave Ambient, which caught the critics’ collective eye. It was also the band’s last collaboration with Kurt Vile, who has since departed to pursue his new band Kurt Vile and the Violators, leaving Granduciel at the helm. His steady hands have steered the Philadelphia-based band towards a magnificent third album in Lost in the Dream, which I’ve read took two years to make, owing to Granduciel’s painstaking efforts to get it right.

It was worth the wait – Lost in the Dream is a lush, rollicking album, fast becoming one of my favourites of the year, and nothing was lost live. They straddle something somewhere between Dylan and Springsteen (the inevitable and enduring comparisons), but with a psychedelic twist. They invoke Kerouac-like visions of freewheeling US of A, all blue jeans and denim jackets, car window rolled down, hair streaming.

Last night they played stellar tracks from Slave Ambient – ‘I was there’, ‘Your love is calling my name’ and the awesome ‘Baby Missiles’ (which never fails to fill me with something close to elation) among others, all punctuated with their trademark ‘Woo!’ – always repeated by an enthusiastic audience that was always just a touch too late.

There was loads from Lost in the Dream as well, including ‘Under the Pressure’, the awesome ‘Red Eyes’ (Woo!) and the title track, too. There was some proper emotion in ‘Eyes to the Wind’, and quieter moments too, such as ‘Suffering’ which sounds deeply personal and was a chance for Granduciel to spend some quality time with his guitar. The yearning, nostalgic feels permeates throughout.

My only criticism – the gig was a bit long. They played for a solid two hours, stretching out intervals between songs with long-lingering feedback interludes, which are part of what makes Lost in the Dream great, but perhaps dragged a bit last night, most notably because I found myself starting to look about the room. So it could’ve been tighter, pacier.

But that’s the worst I can say. A three-song encore included a cover of John Lennon’s Mind Games, which was totally brilliant. I’ll be seeing them again at Green Man festival in August, and I already can’t wait. And it’s safe to say that Lost in the Dream will remain on repeat in my headphones for a while longer yet.

by Patricia Turk

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CW Stoneking Live @ Koko 23/11/11

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CW Stoneking Live @ Koko 23/11/11

Posted on 27 November 2011 by Dorian

The Camden Koko is a near perfect venue to see CW Stoneking. The former Camden Palace was originally opened in 1900 and retains much of the fin de siècle glamour, but it now sits slightly anachronistically against the neon lights, smart bar and mobile phone camera wielding audience. In much the same way CW Stoneking’s music and persona seem like something frozen in an earlier time, in this case 1930s America.

The Dodge Brothers

The Dodge Brothers

In support on the night were The Dodge Brothers, a skiffle band that features film critic Mark Kermode amongst its members. The band plays an enjoyable full throttle set that doesn’t outstay its welcome. I’m no huge skiffle fan but I liked the set a lot and was impressed at what an accomplished bass player Kermode was, and not a bad vocalist either.

CW Stoneking

CW Stoneking

CW Stoneking takes to the stage in his traditional attire, all white with a red bow tie, and politely addresses the crowd before starting a set that may be one of the best I have seen all year. Drawn largely from his excellent Jungle Blues album his voice, and the brass heavy band, sound fantastic. His work could have fallen the wrong side of pastiche, but actually sounds almost timeless despite being so heavily drawn from a past that CW Stoneking seems to still inhabit.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how funny he would be, his storytelling making me laugh out loud (not something I often experience at concerts). Whether it be anecdotes about his time in New Orleans, or tales of when he was shipwrecked by a crew of scientist sailors off the coast of Africa the between song banter was witty and self-aware.

On all the songs the brass section packed a real punch and the pounding drums (the biggest bass drum I have ever seen) were the perfect backing for Stoneking’s soft picking and haunting vocals. When the rest of the band left the stage and Stoneking played a few songs solo you saw another side to the act, one that was solely focused on the voice and presence of the slightly odd, but very captivating Australian blues-man.

In the encore the band played ‘The Love Me or Die’, a particular popular song with the audience (and a real highlight from an excellent set). One woman asked me if she could stand in front of me during the performance to get a  better view of her favourite song. Even her weird ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ style dancing couldn’t distract me from a wonderful performance of an excellent song.

By Dorian Rogers

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