Wednesday 5 December 2018

LIVE: Cosmo Sheldrake at EartH (29/11/18)

If you take a quick glance through the posts I've shared this year it's probably not much of a surprise that Cosmo Sheldrake is likely to feature in my albums of the year post (coming soon... when I get time to write it!) I was therefore VERY excited to catch the London date of his The Much Much How How & I tour last week, as I've been eagerly awaiting a full live set since catching him supporting Johnny Flynn at The Roundhouse last October. Describe the show in a short sentence...? Complete and utter genius.

The gig took place in newly launched venue EartH in Hackney, which has instantly become one of my new favourite London venues. Formerly known as Hackney Arts Centre, the venue (full title Evolutionary Arts Hackney) is a "progressive and essential multi-arts space for the 21st century". They aim to be inclusive to all and to provide a broad spectrum of arts to live audiences. The space itself is the site of the Savoy Cinema, which opened back in the 1930s. After the show I took myself to Google and did a little research, finding this article from the Hackney Citizen about 'long lost cinemas' in Hackney which explains that there have been over 60 cinemas in the area, with around 30 operating simultaneously between 1920 and 1950. While the majority of the sites have been redeveloped into flats, supermarkets and buildings of similar purpose, it is particularly heartwarming to see the Savoy being used as a cultural hub once more. It's a unique space and I hope that it thrives!

Gigging alone and having travelled down to London straight from a shift at work, I took myself down to the front of the venue, settled down with a book, and waited for the first set. Finnegan Tui took to the stage with his guitar, but any expectations I had for just-another-solo-male-artist-with-an-acoustic-guitar were quickly torn away. At just 18, his talent is pretty mind-blowing and his style incredibly difficult to pigeonhole. He very quickly informed us that Cosmo was one of his favourite musicians and an inspiration for him and it was easy to hear this in elements of his performance, but he was particularly individual, at one point using a drum pad to play a solo with samples of an oboe. I'll certainly be keeping an ear out for Finn in the future!

Next up, tour support I See Rivers took to the stage. Often at gigs it can feel as if you're willing time to pass quickly for the support sets so that you can watch the artist you came along to see, but during their set I was very quickly struck with the thought that I'd happily have gone along to see both supports playing their own show (a similar thought occurred to me when I first saw Cosmo play, in fact!) They're a Norwegian trio playing folk music with an infectiously positive stage presence and beautiful harmonies, and they warmed the crowd up wonderfully.

With a lot of anticipation in the air, Cosmo finally took to the stage, and opened his set with my favourite track The Moss. Things could only get better from here... right?! Right. We were treated to the likes of Hocking and Pliocene from his record, but highlights of the set came in the form of improvisations, which cemented my pre-existing view that Cosmo is an absolute genius. It was a treat, and almost intimidating to witness him creating quality music on the spot, in front of a sold out crowd. Two examples of creative craziness came in the shape of gargling some water and looping it, and looping the noise of a desk-fan brushing against the microphone.

I'd anticipated dancing, and a previously relaxed crowd couldn't hold it in once Cosmo played the utter tune Come Along. Fans flocked down to the front of the auditorium and didn't stop dancing for the rest of the show, which featured a collaboration with I See Rivers on Rich, a sunflower dance troupe (no, seriously) for Wriggle and a brass band for Hocking, which I would place as one of the best tracks I've heard this year. An explosion of sound, and what feels like an insight into the inner workings of Cosmo's mind, it is truly something to experience live. Here's a video from his last London show...

To sum up - from what I've seen of Cosmo on stage and online, he seems to completely adore what he does, giving it his all to create the best work he possibly can. He is an incredibly talented and intelligent human being (in the best way possible, a Cosmo Sheldrake gig feels like attending a science lesson) and he is creating music that sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. To watch his live show is genuinely a privilege. I implore you to listen to his record and catch him live if you get the chance!

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