LOUIS COLE FEAT. NORRBOTTEN BIG BAND | London, Islington Assembly Hall

What does a nerf gun, the grim reaper, and a 16 piece big band have in common? You’ll have to attend a Louis Cole concert to find out.

One half of the duo Knower, Louis Cole is now touring for his new album Time.  Having blessed the world with his comedic YouTube videos, his live performance at the Islington Assembly Hall— his largest solo show to date— followed in similar fashion: weird, wild and wonderful.  A dark theatrical opening led us into a bright, up-tempo funk number that had the audience moving straight away.

The 16-piece swedish Norrbotten Big Band joined him on stage donning white jumpsuits to contrast his backing vocals’ disco-themed attire.  Taking a central role in his performance, their presence was felt throughout with explosive riffs and solos.  Working his way through old classics from Knower and new EPs from his solo career, Cole’s command over loops, punchy bass lines, futuristic synths and vocals, and in-the-pocket drumming left the viewer wondering what he couldn’t bring to a set. The mixing was done to perfection, not easily achieved with such a dynamic output, as Cole moved from massive full-band pieces to intimate, piano/ singer numbers, reciting from a piece of paper in hand.

His nonchalant attitude, playing seemingly as if at home— even repeating a song twice because he wanted to— makes for a relaxed atmosphere. Just the right amount of crowd engagement with hilarious, brusque comedy took nothing away from the music whilst adding another dimension of entertainment alongside the funk and dancing.  Cole’s stage presence, alongside the energy radiating from his backing vocals, enthralled the crowd for two funk-induced hours.

For those mourning the end of this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, check out the upcoming listings at the Jazz Café.

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