Friday 16th February.
I discovered India Electric Co as part of 40 gigs, I saw them last June in a folk club and immediately loved them. This was their first headline tour and they bought Jack Cookson along as support. This was the first time I’ve been to Bath for a gig, which seems ridiculous as its only 13 miles away from Bristol on an excellent train line. The Rondo theater is more known for plays and comedy it seems, and if I was a Bath resident I’m sure I would venture there again as it was a lovely space. The staff were friendly and welcoming and joined the audience for the gig, Seb did a great job on the sound too.
This was the third time I’d seen Jack Cookson, he does a cracking job as a support act. He has a natural and easy charm. He is crowdfunding his latest project, give him some money if you can. We cannot allow music to become the preserve of those with wealth, we have to support artists by buying gig tickets and CD’s/records. Jack is a really talented singer songwriter, help him to keep making a living doing what he loves. I’m not usually a fan of the harmonica, but Jack is good enough to make me listen to him play them and he can really play. I think I liked his final song the most, it was certainly the most heartfelt and that I like.
India Electric Co made their entrance through the crowd, playing acoustic, like proper folk troubadours. They then played a brilliant set, songs from the most recent EP’s as well as earlier albums. For all the self-deprecating chat and polite Englishness, they are very, very good. Joe can play so many instruments it’s almost dizzying. It shouldn’t be allowed that one person can be so good on the keys, guitar, violin, accordion and also be so nice. You get the feeling you could give him almost anything to play and he’d make lovely noises come out of it. This paired with Cole’s emotionally charged vocals and you have wonderful music. Please don’t ever stop playing Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, you do it so well, better than the Boss does himself. Lyrically the inspiration comes from poetry and ancient folk songs, but the delivery is modern and with real heart. No matter how much modesty and piss ripping Cole may come out with, watching him feel the song as he sings them is powerful. Parachutes again found me with moist eyes. It’s the standout track of theirs, the one I’ve played over and over since last June. It was delivered last night with real passion and meaning. It was fabulous to hear Joe playing keys on it this time. Tingley I was.
One of the things I have come to really love about folk music is its sense of history, that India Electric Co can take tunes from 350 years ago and pair them with poetry of the same time and turn it into something modern. That music somehow manages to connect us, literally, with the past. Not just with each other in the present moment that we are hearing it, but with generations of others who have played and sung these same songs. I find that very moving.
They finished, as they had begun, among us in the audience. This is music made by people who want to share. My kind of music, and my kind of musicians. The kind I bake chocolate cherry cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing for. They ate two each, so I think they liked them.
Last time I saw India Electric Co I had no idea what to expect and had a lovely surprise. Last night I was, I’ll admit, slightly nervous, that I would have to politely pretend I’d enjoyed it, that was far from the case. Although I’d hate for you to tell them that, if Joe or Cole or Jack ask they were alright but nothing special ok? 😉
Gigs are about so much more than the sounds made on stage, they are about the mood and atmosphere of the place, the people you are with, the performers on stage and how all those things intersect. They are about us, as an audience, being receptive, going in with open ears and open hearts. If 40 gigs taught me anything it was to be unafraid of being open. Performers get up on stage because they want you to listen, I write this blog because I want you to read my words. We want to connect. Our world and our politics seem hell bent on the opposite, so let’s draw together. Go out whenever you can and see a band live. Go without preconceptions, don’t get drunk and chat, just listen. With openness and love. See where it takes you. It has taken me to the most magical places. Odd little theaters in Bath among them.