The Cobden Club is a secretive hideaway in the midst of the concrete sprawl and imposing tower blocks of west London. The gothic opulence and eccentricity of the private members’ club with its vast mirrors and glitterballs is an attractive and pleasant surprise. Tonight’s entertainment, provided by Scottish multi-instrumentalist and Fence Records owner King Creosote, could also be described as attractive and pleasant, if not wholly surprising.
Creosote, real name Kenny Anderson, begins his set gently, playing a couple of solo acoustic numbers and singing about the “most beautiful mistake of the year”. It is all very honest and earnest with an edge of humour that keeps it afloat. A four-piece band then take to the stage to lend their backing to Anderson’s soft burr as he sings a homage to beauty that is far more genuine in its delivery than James Blunt could ever muster. He follows this with Marguerita Red, an offering from last year’s KC Rules OK long player that proves to be gorgeous, touching and heartfelt.
In spite of describing one track as “perfect for shouting your orders at the bar to”, the devoted audience are respectful throughout with little talking during songs and enthusiastic appreciation shown between them. This may be partly down to the refined surroundings or just due to the calm warmth of the music. Even the fan who keeps shouting “Kenneth!” between songs is engaged with confusedly by the friendly Scotsman.
An uptempo ditty featuring a stunning cello freak-out is one of the exceptions to the charmingly melancholic rule and the overall calm is refreshing during these times where shouty indie bands are seemingly everywhere you turn. Anderson then swaps guitar for accordion to play a truly tender ballad which may be verging on soppy but is heartwarming all the same. There is such an overwhelming sentiment to the music which perhaps explains the fervent support King Creosote receives, with people feeling that they have a personal connection with the man on stage tugging at their heart strings.
There is a danger at times that, though delivered with good humour, such closeness can prove too overbearing so the carefree abandon of the final duo of songs comes as a welcome relief. Catchy and bright, light and happy in tone and with an uplifting organ solo thrown in for good measure, they provide an ecstatic finale which provokes a rapturous response. Calls for an encore are granted and Anderson returns to muted melancholy, playing an acoustic version of the ironically restrained I’ll Fly By The Seat Of My Pants. It proves a temporary lull as he invites his band and various other friends, including 679 labelmate M Craft, to the stage for a celebratory mass rendition of Homeboy to end.
It is a rousing finale yet overall Anderson’s music could do with a little more life and verve. Having said that the intimacy of his music suits the intimacy of the venue perfectly. Like the Cobden Club you suspect that while it may not be for the rowdy masses, King Creosote’s music will remain a closely guarded secret to be clutched closely to the hearts of his fans, and a joy for outsiders to catch a glimpse of.