photo - Carsten Windhorst
"Please tell us your name and who you're here to see tonight."
"My name is Nick and I'm here to see I Blame Coco, especially."
"Did you know that the lead singer Coco is Sting's daughter?"
"No...no I didn't know that. Cool"
"How would you describe her voice?"
"Raspy, kind of like a dude. Um, but in...in like a good way."
Hopefully the quality of the show would usurp that of of my pre-show Q&A's with video blog WinkBall. I didn't have much doubt that it would do, as the second of five New To Q installments being held at Notting Hill's Tabernacle - a venue not traditionally known for stellar bills, but one that I'm sure will strive with the publicity from these nights. These sessions have featured and will feature rising stars Delphic, Ellie Goulding, and Marina and the Diamonds, but tonight it was a joint headline bill of Swedish act Miike Snow and Islands Records' I Blame Coco that the fans had come to see.
Young Alex Gardner opened up the bill to a steadily filling room. Most reviews I had read of him previously had focused just as much on his looks as his music, and as he strolled on to the stage with buttoned down flannel shirt revealing a butt neked chest, you could tell there was a bit of a sweat induced from the young ladies and cougars in the room alike. He's got one hell of a set of pipes on him too - his live vocal sounding distinctly Buble (which looks a bit ridiculous without the accent), as he defied early technical issues and delivered the songs with a composed confidence belying his age. Standout track Yesterday's News was very well received and will no doubt be a commercial success in the months to come, but I felt the rest of his set lacked a similar spark. Not that there was anything wrong with it, and I'm sure that with time a repertoire of tracks will emerge of a quality that he's already proved that he is capable of.
Next on were Coco Sumner and co as I Blame Coco, who initially and continually perplexed me with a seemingly new found disco-pop sound. The tracks I initially heard on their MySpace such as the The Constant exhibited an almost Reggae-esque vibe, but this seems to have been discarded for something a bit more current. The majority of the set was hook-laden and upbeat, apart from the final song when the band left Coco to it. This is really where I felt she excelled and her completely unique and highly impressive voice came to the fore. I'd like to see her revert back to a more stripped-down approach in future, as I felt the backing band and electro beats robbed her somewhat of her hugely potential-filled identity. Oh, and Plan B came on to assist current single Caesar (which I'm sure would've been more effective had his vocals been switched on) before adopting plan C and exiting stage left.
Miike Snow were comfortably the best received band of the night, and came on sporting masks similar to those of their name-sake (sort of...) Michael Myers. Strangely enough, lead vocalist Andrew Wyatt was also sipping on a cup of tea, and without mask resembled a slim version of the fat, bearded one from The Hangover. The Swedish act - normally a three-piece but joined by a few on-stage extra's tonight - played through most of their self-titled full-length and, although clearly exhibiting a great sonic awareness and technical know-how, were a little dull for the most part. The majority of the songs begun with heavy piano and ambient feel, built slowly to crescendo, rocked out for a little and then fizzled out, and only really Black & Blue and undoubted highlight Animal stood out as particularly strong tracks from the set. Coco was back on to cameo on the later, and added a terrific new dimension to the latter track. Coco Snow anyone?