Not many gigs start with a Tibetan bloke ringing a bell over some beats. But this is CocoRosie, an integral part of the New York art rock scene.
Based around the talents of sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady, CocoRosie has ploughed a determinately left of centre furrow over five albums and, in that time, the band has turned into a formidable live outfit.
Not for them the traditional line-up as they deploy an electric harp, trumpet, a battery of samplers and amazing beatboxer Tez, who acts as a human drumkit anchoring the dizzying array of sounds echoing round the room.
The first half of this show at The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge focuses on their more reflective new album Tales of a Grass Widow. Sierra attacks the harp while displaying her operatic range of vocal tics as Bianca raps in a distinctive, seemingly disinterested, transatlantic drawl. Imagine Kate Bush mashing it up with Nelly Furtado before she went all pop.
You can see why Antony of the Johnsons is such a big fan as they rip through the mesmerising looped chants of End of Time and are a little more considered on Tears for Animals.
There is a brief interlude where Tez, who is also their producer, gives a beatbox masterclass as the sisters do a quick change into something more comfortable. Meanwhile, sweat drips down the wall in this intimate space.
The break seems to loosen the sisters up as they focus on older songs like We Are On Fire. No one’s attention wavers and the moment they link hands unselfconsciously swaying together to the music is almost too intimate given their troubled family history.
A romp through Teen Angel delights the young acolytes crowded round the front of the stage – they can’t believe they are so close to their idols. Then they’re gone.
In a crazy world where foghorn Florence is a huge star, CocoRosie are artists loved by a select few because they choose to remain true to their vision.
Review by Paul Clarke
Photography by Anne Ward
Where: The Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
When: July 22, 2013