Review: In This Moment at KOKO, London (05/03/15)

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You always know a rock show is going to be exciting when, not only is it sold out, but the queue of faithful fans (many of whom are in costume) has already started to snake around the building by midday. The queue comes as no surprise though, because of the bands that performed at KOKO, two have huge cult followings, one may actually be part of a cult but all three of them gave amazing performances which altogether made for an evening of top-notch musical entertainment.

First up were Starset, a truly unique band who claim to be spreading the teachings of the mysterious Starset Society. The message seems to be about the dangers of attempting to ignore technological advances and avoid progress, and the music the band play is certainly well suited to such a grand mission. It’s the sort of cinematic arena rock pioneered by acts like 30 Seconds To Mars and Muse, but with added symphonic touches for extra spacey grandeur. Combine that with the bands strong aesthetic (band members wearing spacesuits and screens bathing the venue in soothing blue light) and you have a recipe for a compelling live act. These guys are already incredibly successful in the US, and with a few more performances like the one they gave at this show they’ll soon be enjoying a similar status here in the UK.

Next up were home-grown heroes Fearless Vampire Killers, a reliably classy and entertaining live act who wouldn’t know how to put on a bad show if they tried. Their short set positively fizzed with effervescent joy, as they bounced around like excitable, sharply dressed puppies. Their bounciness certainly didn’t interfere with the quality of their performance though and they gave polished renditions of a few of their most crowd-pleasing tracks (and one particularly enjoyable cover of Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’). They finished their performance with the title track from their latest album ‘Unbreakable Hearts’ a sweeping operatic rock number that clearly marks Fearless Vampire Killers as the natural heirs to My Chemical Romance’s emo-rock throne.

However, despite two excellent performances that were undoubtedly well received by the audience, true pandemonium didn’t break out in KOKO’s opulent surroundings until headliners In This Moment took to the stage. They immediately kicked off the show with new single ‘Sick Like Me’, an electronic rock number with a thunderous drumbeat which sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy, and caused them to surge forward towards the stage in one huge, excitable mass. It’s clear from the start that this is far more than just your average rock show. KOKO’s stage was decorated with elaborate cage-like stage sets and the band were joined on the stage by a pair of dancers, their simple outfits perfectly complementing front woman Maria Brink’s elaborate costumes. She’s a charismatic performer, with an incredibly powerful voice, who more than puts paid to the dinosaurs who say that women lack the presence to front rock bands. In This Moment’s set mainly focused on their newer, heavier work, but Brink was equally at ease with the occasional slower moment too. Piano-led ballad ‘Into The Light’ really gave her voice room to shine by stripping away the often crushingly loud and heavy guitars. It provided a particularly poignant moment too, as the crowd fell silent and respectfully raised phones and lighters into the air. Finally, the band performed their last number, the snarling and aggressive ‘Blood’, and the evening drew to a sweaty and adrenaline-fuelled close, it was clear that those in attendance had witnessed a very special evening of rock music, and, just possibly, the birth of the next big underground sensation.

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