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REVIEW: JP Cooper @ The Haunt, 17/10/16

The Verse’s Alex Berdugo reviews JP Cooper’s show at The Haunt on the 17th October.

Iridescent blue lighting filled the venue as Prose, support act for JP Cooper, took to the stage. The Mancunian three-piece began with a sombre number that highlighted Mike Murray’s esteemed rapping quality, as the solitary piano filled the sonic space between. The rap strongly resembled a work of spoken word poetry, with Murray practically speaking to the audience with a musical skew.

When Dave Stone (producer, singer, bassist) and Lee Royle (guitarist) joined in the fray, the songs took on a variety of turns. There was a pop punk feel during the choruses, before quickly returning to the dark and heartfelt rap verses. Some tracks, however, were purely acoustic and were able to showcase the versatility of all the musicians. The last song in the set, Run With Faith, was reminiscent of a classic club chorus and encouraged the audience to dance with a convincing rhythm.

The band primarily played tracks from their debut album Home Of The Brave, one that is definitely worth the time to listen to. It is an album that tells the Indie music scene “we’re here” and is sure to explode with popularity.

Prose managed to persuade myself and the rest of the crowd that their career was going to take off like a jet plane in the near future, leaving an imprint that I will not be forgetting quickly. With a style that refreshes that of Jamie T, the band are headed towards big things.

A short interval after Prose, the session musicians for JP Cooper appeared and idly played their alluring chords to set the scene. It was immediately obvious that each member could play expertly and all the while not sacrifice the feel required in a professional group. As the beginning notes of recent release September Song were hit, JP Cooper himself drifted onstage to thrilled applause. His iconic hat sat upon his staple dreadlocks, a confident smile playing on his lips. This live version of the song was toned down, slower in tempo and more restrained, allowing the raw vocals to shine through.

He engaged often with the crowd, cracking jokes and interacting with individuals who shouted out or were dancing especially extravagantly. His relaxed persona and lack of attitude demonstrated how humble he was, ensuring the audience was instantly on his side.

There was a collective awe at JP Cooper’s voice, I would go as far as to say he was even better in live performance than in the studio – this is saying a lot. All band members appeared incredibly comfortable in their positions, not missing a beat and playing flawlessly tight together. This created a sense of effortless musical ability that was appreciated immensely by the crowd.

A stand out track was Closer, the elegant melody and compelling rhythm executed exquisitely by the instrumentalists and the front man himself. Many were singing along, though it was such a spectacle that others choose simply to watch and marvel.

Overall a sensational gig to have witnessed, acting as real proof that artists can be exceptional live as well as the studio. Would thoroughly recommend seeing either JP Cooper or Prose in the future, especially at an intimate venue.

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