Review: Little Comets at Cockpit

Their music might be labelled “kitchen sink indie” but the Tyne and Wear trio (plus drummer) prove they can shine just as brightly onstage…

Matt and Rob set themselves up. And out come a range of instruments you’d find in a primary school (tambourines, maracas…a PAN) for use as impromptu percussion. The guitars and kit are covered in extracts from songs – apt for their “kitchen sink indie” genre.

Waiting since 7pm, there’s anticipation. But Matt, Mickey and Rob begin humbly, launching with album track ‘Bridge Burn’, with their quiet confidence paying off. The crowd is clapping from the first bar, which twinkles with trademark soaring guitar riffs and Rob’s jaunty vocals, all layered with complicated rhythms – this is evocative music that takes you somewhere else.

The Comets are masters of the catchy chorus. Even the album tracks from “life is elsewhere” – released just last week – get a good reception (the boys seem surprised that we already know the words!).

What sets them apart though are the lyrics that fit these tunes.

With few banal love songs, we dance to poetic accounts of Broken Britain in ‘Isles’ – hang on to every word of the song Rob introduces as “quiet, sad and slow” and ‘Violence out Tonight’, which tells a lyrically beautiful but harrowing tale of rape and domestic violence. Those which are about love are enigmatic and heartfelt: song names beg us to ask who the girls are (Joanna, Mathilda, Jennifer…?), and the band seems visibly moved during ‘Lost Time’. Whether this is because of the lyrics or the crowds’ enthusiasm, the way the boys perform makes it hard not to feel there’s a story behind each song.

Towards the end, the audience are thanked and are told of ‘no encore’ as they don’t like to assume they’ll get called back. It’s clear that the audience would love nothing more – the front half of Cockpit is a sweaty mess, with more crowd surfing than I’ve seen for some time. But this shy approach to progress seems to be part of their charm.

Four years after they first released ‘One Night in October’, their fan base has steadily grown but they remain true to their origins, something others have thrown away for a quick shot at fame. The care they put into what they do is a breath of fresh air in an arguably stagnant industry.

To finish, they build the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Dancing Song’, and finally, true to modest form, end with another album track.

It might have been nice to round off with a big hit, but I can forgive Little Comets for being, as frontman Rob puts it, “quite bashful”, if that’s the magic ingredient to their individual, soulful sound.