India Electric Co – Folk House, Bristol

Sunday 22nd September, 2019

I was first introduced to India Electric Co by my friend Kate as part of the original 40 gigs challenge. They were gig 25 and sat between Elbow and improvised jazz in what was a brilliant little run of gigs that opened my eyes to new genres of music. They became the first revisited artists, the first act I discovered as part of 40 gigs that I went to see again. They now also have the honour of being the first act I have seen for a third time. That in itself should tell you how much I like them, as should the fact that I booked these tickets way back in April.

Bristol Folk House is fab, I’ve gone on about it before, but I will do so again. A friendly and quirky place, with great soft/hot drink options and cake, with either the cafe/bar performance area for intimate gatherings or the downstairs hall for larger gigs, always seated and relaxed, with excellent sound. The only thing to not love about it are all the stairs that make it inaccessible for some, but in every other way it ticks all the boxes for being a great venue.

Support was being provided by the excellent Jack Cookson, just as it had before. He is a very talented and lovely chap. It has been a real pleasure to see and  hear how Jack’s confidence and songwriting have grown in the past couple of years. Writing modern folk songs about how it is to be a man in the 21st Century, he is funny, warm and engaging. He regularly gigs in Bristol and Plymouth so go see him and buy his stuff on Band Camp.

India Electric Co are by their own admission sometimes folk, sometimes not, and I guess it really depends on how you describe the genre. To my, albeit new to folk mind and ears they are very much a folk duo. Singer/songwriters using acoustic instruments (guitar, accordion, fiddle) using their music to tell stories, sometimes ancient and other times modern. That’s folk, right? And great folk at that. Reworked sea shanties about the girls left behind, lyrics from WH Auden poetry, stories of being lost, far from home and longing for a new life and love. All folk. Throw in a magnificent Bruce Springsteen cover and you have all the makings of a wonderful evening of music. I am not the worlds biggest Bruce fan, but  boy can he write a tune. Cole and Joe covering it in their own style is shiver inducing. In their hands it becomes the sort of song that makes tears spring out of the corner of your eyes and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. One of the things I love about seeing India Electric Co live is how emotionally invested in each song they are. Joe plays in just his socks to ground himself in his playing and when he wore glasses Cole used to have take them off and put them in his pocket when he sang this song. That they are unafraid to be vulnerable on stage. to share with us how affecting the music is partly why I love them.

Of their own music, the track I still love the most (and was my second most listened to track of 2018 on Spotify fact fans) is Parachutes. It sends shivers through me.

If you are looking for a way into folk music, or already like it, or just like really good acoustic music then I can highly recommend India Electric Co. This was the last night of their tour, so I don’t know when they will next play this way, but when they do I’ll see you there.


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