- Little Comets
- Koko, London
- Thursday 16th March 2017
The North-East’s finest return to play a headline show at Koko in Camden to showcase their brand new album ‘Worhead’.
As I roll my eyes at the support act for this evening’s performance singing about “kids in love” backed sonically by a load of synth tosh, completely lacking in any kind of bottom end or even a whiff of rock ‘n’ roll (remember that kids?!), I manage to let go of my grumpy old man cynicism for one moment, to realise that this is exactly the sort of ‘class of 2017’, partially pubescent, millennial, generation Z demographic that need to hear the lyrics of one Robert Coles. In actual fact, we all are in need of a sermon from ‘Reverend’ Coles.
At a time when global politics is taking a further slip down the rungs of the fecal matter-covered ladder every minute of every day, the ‘yoof’ need some direction in a world leading badly by example, in addition perhaps to a sometimes badly needed slap (metaphorical or otherwise) to dispel the ever growing air of entitlement and expected privilege that is so predominant with today’s society bred by acceptance and worship of celebrity culture and the idea of being celebrated for doing nothing.
Behold: Little Comets. The northeast Trio with three albums under their belts have now expanded to a five-piece live band. The transition has further garnished their dynamic and blistering live set with the addition of extra guitar/synths/percussion and backing vocals. As the blue lights fill the room at the start of the set, the energy in the room is tangible and the audience respond.
Tonight a string of their previous singles are celebrated by the partisan crowd with utmost admiration, with a splatter of tracks from brand new fourth album ‘Worhead‘ thrown in for good measure. Recent single ‘Common Things’ is received (as if it is an already established standard) by the audience in amongst ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Little Italy’ proving that wherever Little Comets go musically or lyrically, their fans go with them with equal part complete dedication and a committment to exploration and experimentation. There aren’t too many contemporary bands out there whose current single begins with lyrics line “When she first gave me cold sores on a park bench in Walsall” but then Little Comets are far, far from a conventional band. Likewise, moments later they drop ‘The Man Who Wrote Thriller’. Their nod to Rod Temperton and his detachment from celebrity is once again not a traditional type of song but it goes down well with the crowd despite the fact that the new album has only just been released.
The most life-affirming thing as the gig progresses is that the audience of such a young average age are singing along with lyrics about social mobility, distribution of wealth, political corruption and domestic abuse, whilst letting their hair down and losing themselves in the music with free abandon. It makes you just sit and wonder what social change Adele, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and One Direction could affect if they just worked a little bit harder at their English Lit and modern history homework!
But it’s not all just about the words. Little Comets have a sound unlike most of their contemporaries at the moment. There is a clear Paul Simon and almost ‘World Music’ -like influence on the rhythms and riffs at times that not only make the tunes infectiously catchy but also mean that their songs encourage the body to let go of restraint. Funny enough the music ultimately matches the lyrical content in that it challenges and motivates the listener to change their position.
Fan favourite ‘The Blur, The Line and The Thickest Of Onions’ is one of the highlights of the night as lead singer Rob Coles drops his guitar and switches with new touring member Matt Saxon to play keyboards at the back. The reverence for the words of arguably one of the Comets’ finest works is prevalent around the venue as you can hear teenage girls singing along word for word with lines about misogyny, violence towards women, media hypocrisy and the failure of these issues to be discussed by other artists. Later we are treated to a rare outing of ‘Woman, Woman’ as Rob lets the rest of the band nip out for a wee break and has the audience in his palm – ‘preaching to the choir’ has never been a more apt idiom, as for a moment the whole hall is one with the singer.
I often wonder if there is some sort of ironic force at work in the universe that means that if you are an act of artistic merit (and actually have something to say or to challenge the status quo) that you can’t have significant commercial success. Whether Little Comets follow the mould of say the Velvet Underground in being a band that doesn’t get the credit it deserves at the time but goes on to inspire a multitude of others, we will have to wait and see but in the meantime, this Koko crowd tonight celebrates them with what they deserve: a sweaty, passionate and devoted rapturous response.
They say farewell with new track ‘Hunting’ – one of the standouts from the new album which tells the tale of a fox hunter seeking a new way of feeding his pleasure for causing pain. It begins with a cute 60s girl group refrain, before growing into an all out audio assault as the band wig out and the lights go Olympic, Rob’s falsetto takes off and at one point all 5 band members are getting in on vocal duties.. sublime. The night ends in the way all Little Comets shows end, with a dance, as Koko rings out to ‘Dancing Song’ and the crowd pogo and conga their way out into the streets of London.
Trump and Brexit, injustice and discrimination are forgotten about and have no place throughout the duration. “For tonight Matthew..We are all little ever-evolving gasses.”
Little Comets fourth album ‘Worhead’ is out now – Buy it here!