Dutch Uncles @ Koko, London 10.04.15

Touring fourth LP O Shudder, Manchester alt pop collective are on exacting live form in London

Apr 10th, 2015 at Koko, London / By Jack Hardman
Dutch Uncles @ Koko, London 10.04.15 Walking onto the Koko stage in an unassuming fashion, Dutch Uncles jumped straight into latest album 'O' Shudder' opener 'Babymaker'. The synths are intriguing, bouncing between notes like popcorn exploding in a microwave. It was a quiet introduction, and set the tone for the night. The music would do the talking.

Lead vocalist Duncan Wallis is an immediately captivating performer. Throwing his arms and hips around like a more smartly dressed Freddie Mercury, his energy and enthusiasm is hard to ignore. Vocally, however, he is slightly more enigmatic. Wallis moves expressively through his range in a very subtle fashion, always keeping something back. It's a bit more beauty than brawn, which is weirdly satisfying in a world of foghorn singers.

Throughout the set, the rhythms were jagged and angular, cutting across the plush Koko backdrop with precision. The time signatures often strayed away from our beloved 4/4, and you can tell they're a band whose hearts must all beat in time. This was no more evident than in 'Threads', where the piercing minimalist xylophones blended perfectly with the offbeat rhythms in total unison. Dutch Uncles are certainly a tight band.

Away from the music, the evening took a funny twist when a peculiar silken wearing puppet appeared behind the amp of guitarist Pete Broadhead. It reacted to every beat through interpretive dance, and gave the crowd some light, if not bizarre, relief. I've never seen a puppet dance at a gig, and enjoyed the aside.

As the evening drew to a close, both the band and crowd started to feel truly at ease with each other. The music got heavier, and ripples of crazy dancing started to pop up across the floor. The quieter types gladly responded to the mood change with appreciative head nods. There was a genuine sense of upset when the set came to an end, and so predictably the biggest cheer of the evening came during the bands return to the stage for their encore. Even at the climax of the performance the music was understated and spacious, bowing out gracefully under the rich purple lighting above.

Dutch Uncles have gradually built a reputation for being quirky, complicated, and entirely unique. This Koko performance proved all that and more.