Wednesday 29th January, 2020
While Colston Hall are completing their refurbishment they are working in partnership with other venues in Bristol, Trinity being one, so this was a Colston Hall Presents show. I trust CH’s judgement on music, they bring such vibrant and diverse music to Bristol how could I not?
I can’t remember if I picked up on KOKOROKO from 6 Music or Radio 3, it could have been either or both given that their music would fit as well on Freeness, Late Junction or on Mary Anne Hobbs or Giles Peterson’s shows on 6. Wherever it was I was pleased that they were playing in Bristol so I would get a chance to hear them play live.
Trinity is a great arts and community space, perfect for this sort of gig. With a DJ set by way of support it was pretty easy to get close to the front so that I could see some of the musicians on the stage. Even with my slightly stacked trainers on, I am very short so seeing anything of the performers is not a given!
Even with the jostling and movement of people back n forth, my little spot proved to be a good vantage point and I could see most of the stage. Result. As much as you are there to hear the music, it helps me if I can see the performers and watch the interplay between them, the way they move, how they get lost in the music and interact with the crowd.
It did take time to warm us up, it was a cold night after all, but there were pockets of dancing going on from the start. KOKOROKO are an afro-futuristic jazz octet. There were funky rhythms and grooves, percussion and brass going on, complimenting and not competing (jazz can seem like a sonic dissonance battle sometimes) and everyone on the stage seemed to be having a great time. Most of the rest of the crowd did too, I saw lots of happy faces and bodies moving in unison around me.
I was struggling. Both emotionally to be in a place that holds memories that are at the moment painful and physically as the standing wasn’t doing my nerve damaged neck many favours. I tried to keep my body as fluid as the music demanded (it is staying in any one position too long that tends to hurt) and even attempted a little bit of dancing, but it was all too much and after about an hour I needed to move away and find somewhere to sit down. This wasn’t easy, as the limited seats (1 small bench and 2 stools) were already occupied so I ended up sitting on the floor at the back! I don’t know what the solution to this is, by the way, but I wish venues could find one. I am finding that seated gigs with intervals are much easier to manage generally and standing ones are becoming increasingly ones I have to avoid. Perhaps it is time that I accept that age and illness are more limiting that I want them to be.
I left slightly before the end as I wanted to avoid any crowd crush and I as left the sounds of happy people and quality music filled my ears.
KOKOROKO are a great live band, making interesting and exciting music that speaks of African heritage and modern London that makes people smile and dance. That was worth showing up for, even if I was unable to fully join in.