Sunday, June 17, 2007


Support:Tez, Rio En Medio
Venue:The Arches, Glasgow, Friday 15th June 2007

The Arches is a funny old place sometimes. The main entrance all shiny, with reception/ticket desk, lounge bar and restaurant. The other entrance, in a dingy tunnel. Most of the events I’ve been to recently have been through the shiny entrance, Cocorosie on a Friday night was like the recent Yann Tiersen gig, where you arrive at the front entrance baffled to see no sign of a gig. Just as I was arriving, 20 minutes after door’s opening time, they were putting up a sign to say it was the dingy entrance. Great. Unlike Yann Tiersen, we didn’t filter in the back entrance to get to the arch nearest the front entrance, instead we filtered in to the arch nearest the back entrance. Which meant the bar and stage were at opposite ends of the same space, so that for the whole night you had people watching the bands at one end, and people sitting around and drinking at the other end. With every band complaining about the level of chatter noise the whole night, which was a bit shitty and annoying, especially given the amount of money being paid to see the band in the first place.

The first act on was the American Rio en Medio, the project of singer/songwriter Danielle Stech-Homsy, though she was joined on stage by a guy who helped out with the more electronic side of her music. A table with various black boxes and toys add stray atmospheric sounds and odd electronic contributions, fairy lights strung along the front and across to the chair where Danielle sits with her ukulele. The songs are dominated by the sound of strings and voice, reminding initially of someone like early Heather Nova, though as the set progresses there is a sense that there is an element of Cocorosie within the sound. Downbeat, laid back and perhaps a little haunting. The second support band was something of a surprise. One man, one body, the French Tez. A human beat box. Who played an incredible array of sounds, hip hop to techno, layering beats, sirens, vocals, and all kinds of effects originating from his vocal chords. The crowd were particularly appreciative of Tez’s performance, appropriately so, a stunning set.

Cocorosie filtered on stage, working up to it. The sister’s Bianca and Sierra dominated the band of course, but they were backed up by a pianist, a bassist and Tez, with Rio coming on stage a couple of times to provide an extra pair of hands/lungs. Cocorosie are not a band I am especially familiar with, my brother has been listening to them since their first album came out, from which I’ve kind of been peripherally aware of them. That has sunk enough that my vague awareness of them suggested that seeing as how they were playing live, they might actually be worth seeing. The sisters’ vocals cover an extreme of territory. Bianca’s voice initially reminds of Stina Nordenstam, that quirky kind of almost child voice, similar to more recent singer Joanna Newsom. Sierra’s voice on the other hand is more operatic and theatrical, starkly contrasting Bianca, though at times she uses effects to sing through, which bring her voice more into that quirky territory. To the side of the stage there is a table full of toys, bells, chimes, shells, and random bits and bobs, which form the bulk of Bianca’s instrumentation. While Sierra switches from a sequencer to harp as the song demands, with the pianist switching between the piano and sequencer the rest of the time. The sound of Cocorosie is unique and curious, a kind of quirky weird pop, with influences of trip/hip hop working their way in. Stray lyrics identify a whimsical nature, a strange colourful world, contrasted by the more adult nature of some of the themes/influences. Sierra seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself, grinning the whole time they were on stage, Bianca less so, regularly trying to get more out of the soundman, declaring that the audience got the award for most annoying chatter ever - in the end Sierra jumped up and down, waving and grinning, Bianca gave a grudging wave to the strong audience response, turning her back and walking off.

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