A converted monastery was the opulent setting for a corporate-sponsored evening of two types of pop(ular) music on one hand indie-electro-rock-pop lady I Blame Coco and grimy pop star Tinchy Stryder.My brother (my hip-hop and grime expert) and I arrived to find Eddy Temple Morris playing a range of tracks to try and get this big business party started. While this was going on a bevy of beautiful boys and girls were mingling with the crowd extolling the virtues of the sponsor’s phones and thankfully, given the bar prices, giving out free drinks.
I Blame Coco for those that don’t know is Eliot Paulina “Coco” Sumner, daughter of Sting, she like many offspring of the rich and famous has worked hard to get her chance, she has worked with Fyfe Dangerfield, Robyn and Miike Snow and toured all over Europe and supported La Roux. Her musical style is quite mellow in places; she has quite a low soothing voice with an electro rock element thrown in.
She arrives with a 4 piece band and delivers a competent set that held the crowd’s attention, she says they were in Manchester recently and points out some people who were there. The songs were not quite forgettable but getting close to it, the fans in the room enjoyed her hit “Strict Machine” but it is unlikely that this performance would win more. After a year where Marina and the Diamonds, Ellie Goulding, La Roux and Florence and the Machine were all critical and commercial successes, her debut album went in the charts at #86, although success should not solely be judged by chart performance, after major label backing, mainstream airplay and despite protestations, leg up from birth she’s only got herself to blame.
When I tell my brother Tinchy Stryder was the biggest selling male artist in 2009 in the UK he surprised because although his 4 number 1 singles attest to his popularity nobody really thinks he’s that big. The diminutive rapper arrives on stage armed only with a DJ in trademark Star in Da Hood hoody and a mic and he begins with what I’m reliably informed are his grimier tracks including “Gangsta’” and “Game Over”, the crowd move to the beat but they are not really sing-a-long songs and the crowd don’t seem the type to rap-a-long. At the end of the grime section he launches into a freestyle rap about how he has gone from the underground to being more commercially successful and how others have said he can never go back; this then segues into his biggest hit “Number One” the crowd are asked to help out in the absences of his many collaborators. The hits continue with “Take Me You”, “I Will Never Leave” and “Stryderman” and the crowd is now mouthing every word.
At gigs like this you are never going to get the sort of atmosphere you would get at the individual artists’ own but these two artists made a fair fist of it trying to put on a proper show and latterly packing in as many hits as possible.