I Blame Coco – Live at Academy 1, Manchester 26/10/2010

Review by Laura Hughes

Nepotism. Sounds like your little brothers’ favourite Goth-metal band, but the official line is ‘patronage bestowed on the basis of family relationship’. It’s a theory that’s been banded about a fair bit with tonight’s headliners, but when your dad is Sting, it’d be hard not to grab hold of a metaphorical leg-up into the music world with both hands.

Refreshingly, Eliot Paulina ‘Coco’ Sumner is less of a Hilton-esque airhead brat than you’d imagine. Dressed in dark green cigarette-pants and a scarf, she looks like a cross between a Dickensian street urchin and Alexa Chung, if you squinted a bit. Despite having hair you could fry an egg on, 20 year-old Sumner is ethereally striking, with cut-glass cheekbones and almost-transparent skin.

It’s not unreasonable to learn that she landed the spring/summer Burberry campaign in 2008 alongside the equally-androgynous Agyness Deyn on her own merit, and there’s neither a lute nor a harp in sight as the band launch into ‘Party Bag’, a soaring, synth-heavy ditty with lyrics that have been repeatedly denied as being about a night on the Charlie. Whatever would Gordon say?

Crowd-favourites are pulled out of the hat early on with the soaring ‘Selfmachine’ out of the way within the first ten minutes. Sumner’s throaty voice cracks like Deirdre Barlow sucking on a Benson and Hedges and the more demanding parts of current single ‘In Spirit Golden’ are beefed up by some back-line vocals. Regardless, her husky tones compliment her older-than-her-years attitude as she jerks about the stage like a rigor mortised Ian Curtis in a bow tie, spitting out every word in an otherworldly dialect.

The rest of the all-male band duly acknowledge that this is The Coco Show, with the exception of her Craig David-goateed guitarist who eyeballs the front row, manically bobbing his head like a cockerel on steroids.

‘No Smile’ is reggae-tinged brilliance, and Sumner momentarily sounds exactly like her famous father. She showcases rudimentary guitar-playing skills on ‘It’s About to Get Worse’, a scribbled sticker on the instrument advertising debut album ‘The Constant’.

The much-remixed ‘Caesar’ is the closer of a surprisingly short 45-minute set, and much of the surprised audience linger as the lights come on to see if there’ll be an encore. There isn’t. Ballsy and unapologetic, Coco is a (slightly) less ridiculous-haired La Roux and with an arsenal of pleasant enough electro-pop fodder, she more than holds her own under the gargantuan shadow of you-know-who. Now somebody get her a message in a bottle (of shampoo). Sorry.

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