London Camden Underworld

...just beautiful, timeless songs...

North London five-piece Cousteau, and vocalist Liam McKahey in particular, have been portrayed by most as miserable, fragile, destitute souls who would snap like a twig under the slightest emotional pressure. Judging by their live show, nothing could be further from the truth.

Liam strolls on first through a wash of deep red light, hair cropped hooligan short with earrings and tattoos to match. He carries a threadbare second-hand suit on his shoulders with muscular style. Then he smiles. And gives his booty a little shake. By all accounts, not the actions of a wandering spirit.

By the time they play 'Your Day Will Come', the opener from their forthcoming eponymous album, Joe Peet's violin has been exchanged for a scraggy double bass, which resonates in perfect harmony with Liam's throaty, baritone charms. It's the Tindersticks doing Portishead's 'Glory Box', and it's perfection.

'The Last Good Day Of The Year' follows, all lazy, trumpet-driven jazz, but this isn't where Cousteau shine, it's in their ballads. The defining point comes during 'Jump In The River'. Musically it's their darkest moment - eerily reminiscent of Nick Cave's 'Where The Wild Roses Grow' - with Liam pleading "Rain, rain on me/I thirst only one desire". And once again, it's close to perfection.

So, no emotional breakdowns tonight, very few destitute souls; just beautiful, timeless songs as pure as the peers they seek to emulate.

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