Live Music + Gig Reviews

Koop @ Jazz Cafe, London

27 October 2006

The laws of physics are impossible to break. In the same way that it’s impossible for us mere mortals to defy gravity there’s also no such thing as a bad gig at Camden’s Jazz Caf.

Granted, some of the punters need to take more notice of the S.T.F.U. sign displayed behind the stage but this North London venue regularly plays host to some brilliant music. It was a great venue for Stockholm duo Koop to bring their idiosyncratic, but enjoyable jazz stylings to a capacity crowd.

At first glance Koop appear a bit hatstand. They actively scoff at being called retro – these guys specialise in time travel to make even Doctor Who jealous. Their latest LP, Koop Islands, transports the listener back to a Caribbean cruise circa 1929.

The album itself takes a few listens to fully appreciate but it really comes into a class of its own when it’s performed live. The crowd of Camden found themselves transported to another, sunnier climate via Koop’s simplistic “we just play Jazz” approach to the medium.

One of the great things about the Jazz Caf is the way that you can see the musicians up close and fully appreciate their skill. Koop’s band for the night was exceptionally skilful and great to watch. They also provided proof that the marimba is not just for the likes of The White Stripes.

The real revelation for the evening was the splendid Yukimi Nagano whose effortless stage presence was hypnotic but at no stage threatened to upstage the band – I could have watched her all evening.

Koop’s core members, Oscar and Magnus, stripped off various layers of clothing during the course of the gig until they were eventually left in silky nighties but this did feel a little gimmicky – if there is one criticism, it is that there’s a streak of pretension here and there which spoils the fun.

Altogether, the Jazz Caf pedigree has done it again. After the Koop hungry crowd demanded two encores it was time for long-time Koop champion Gilles Peterson to take to the decks for those brave enough to catch the night buses home. For the rest of us the grime and chaos of kicking out time brought us back to reality after spending an evening in such an exotic paradise.

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Koop @ Jazz Cafe, London