Cocorosie – Nottingham Trent University, Wednesday June 13
Watching Cocorosie casually shambling around the stage, sharing private jokes and either unwilling or unable to concentrate on their performance, we seemed in danger of having all our worst preconceptions about the self-consciously arty avant garde confirmed. Led by sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady, and backed by a keyboardist, bassist and human beat-boxer, the band’s hip-hop influenced “freak-folk” sound was dominated by the sort of squeaky Björk-on-helium vocals that could have become intensely grating.
As the set progressed, these eccentricities became steadily less troublesome. Slowly but surely, the performers settled into their roles. Predominantly song-based, the material was never allowed to drift into the sort of aimless meanderings that make the likes of Joanna Newsom such a struggle.
With their radical re-working of Akon’s I Wanna Love You, sung from the stripper’s perspective (“You see me trying to smile up on this pole, just hiding the pain that’s deep in my soul”), everything snapped into focus, the remaining material displaying a new sense of purpose and cohesion. This no longer felt like smug experimentalism for its own sake. What could have been one of the year’s most insufferably pretentious gigs instead turned out to be one of the most spell-binding and magical.