Soko @ Union Chapel 1st March 2012

Soko (aka Stéphanie Sokolinski) is a French singer/ actress whose music I completely adore. I fist saw her play at the Astoria in 2008 then she had the whole thing where she was dead. Soko then resurfaced in 2009 and has been gigging ever since. Gigs in the London are very rare but this time début album I Thought I Was An Alien was released and a short jaunt of the UK was announced. This event took place at the wonderful Union Chapel where the acoustics are amazing. With near enough 100 songs underneath her belt it comes as no surprise that Soko’s sets are extremely long. Tonight she played for 100 minutes and didn’t even get an encore. The 21 strong song set consisted of 14 album tracks, oldies and a couple of brand new songs. Soko took to the stage at 9pm and the set didn’t get off to a good start as someone’s Mobile Phone went off. “I’m glad I didn’t start playing when that happened. It’s a church you could turn your phone off. That would be great. Respect the Holy Spirit. Hi I’m Soko. This is really beautiful and I’m really nervous” Sokolinski then said before opening with I Cannot Be Bothered To Open My Eyes Again. There is something about Soko that I love. Vocally this was extremely beautiful and very gentle at the same time. However she missed out a chunk of the 3rd verse. “This song is called Crybaby it’s kind of how I feel most of the time” Soko said before getting stuck into Crybaby. This song was rather pacey. Once over there was a lengthy guitar tune up and battery change. Soko then got fed up and went to the drum kit. “What the f**k, I’m just going to play drums”. The song following on was Nervous Breakdown. This song was both upbeat and very up tempo. She put every ounce of energy into the song and what I pick up from this is that Soko is a perfectionist, she wants everything to run like clockwork. The lyric “I’m getting closer to a Nervous Breakdown” is just expressing how she is feeling. “It’s been feeling really weird and that’s mostly coz I sometimes feel like an alien that’s why my album’s called I Thought I Was An Alien that’s why this song is called I Thought I Was An Alien. That’s why I’m selling glow in the dark alien T Shirts just to remind everyone how I feel” Soko then said before launching into the LPs self titled track. I Thought I Was An Alien was the 2nd single to be taken from the album and was extremely different compared to the others that feature on it. It was then onto People Always Look Better In The Sun which was rather synthy. Soko’s vocals were beautiful and this song felt rather mellowing. “This song’s called We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow and it is quite an optimistic song. Because it just says you got to live now because death’s just around the corner” Soko then mentioned to the audience. The lyrics to We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow were very optimistic and also it felt very dark at the same time (as you had heavy drumbeats). It was then onto Don’t You Touch Me. At first Soko’s vocals were delicate then when the drums came in the song gained a lot more power. The song went down well as the whole audience erupted in applause. “This song is called Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate and I never thought I would sing a song about suicide in a church” Soko then said to the audience. Even though the song had dark lyrics I found myself really liking Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate. “Lets bring it back to quiet now. This is called Treat Your Woman Right. It’s one of those songs that you write and it means something then you leave something else and it means even more” Sokolinski then said to the audience. Treat Your Woman Right was both gentle and beautiful at the same time. I really liked the use of Gillian playing the violin during this number. I’ve Been Alone Too Long then followed on. This again was a beautiful song tinged with sadness. There was a steady pace to this and it was delivered to perfection. Soko then asked the audience “Is it OK I play more sad songs, I have a lot more”. It was clear to see she was fighting back the tears as she was sniffing before getting stuck into For Marlon. It’s obvious that these songs mean a lot to her. Regarding For Marlon this was a beautiful and very quiet at the same time.

“When I recorded my album it took me 6 years to make the album I Thought I Was An Alien and I recorded about 100 songs and wrote probably even more” Soko said before revealing that the next song was the last one written and will go on the next album. This being My Dreams Dictate My Reality. This was a rather promising and I look forward to hearing the studio version. Soko delivered this song at ease and didn’t need to use her lyric/ notebook to help her. Little Mermaid Man was up next and this was a soft quiet track which got powerful when nearing the end. There was some audience participation during this song with everyone joining in with the oooooooooo parts. “This is called I Just Want To Make It New With You. I feel like in life we’re all kind of stuck in weird patterns and it’s really hard to get out of it and I really hate repeating myself. So I try to always make everything new like when you’re a child and everything you do is for the first time. So everything’s pretty exciting and you don’t have and pre conceived way in looking at things or going to think I’m going to get hurt, I don’t wanna go there. You’re just going to get hurt, well too bad. So that’s what this songs about” Soko said before going into I Just Want To Make It New With You. Now I really liked this, It had some brilliant lyrics which gelled with the melody. A indecisive Soko decided to play a normal song rather than a brand new one and this was to be No More Home, No More Love. “I still have no home and I still have no love and I really don’t know where I’m sleeping tonight”. This was delivered perfectly I liked its folkness. Plus there was a tinge of sadness when you carefully listen to the lyrics. Newie or iTunes bonus track Fake It Until You Make It was played after. I found this to be rather soft and mellow. Ashame it didn’t feature on the physical release. It was then onto some audience participation. “You’ll have to make an extra effort please” Soko said to the audience as she wanted everyone to sing the word How Are You over and over again. This  was rather gentle and the lyrics were rather superb. “You guys are really amazing, thankyou” Soko mentioned to the audience when taking to the drums for Trapped In Freedom. “I advise you never to get stuck in Freedom too much coz this song is about unprotected sex”. This again was another powerful song and Soko belted it out by putting ever ounce of energy into it. First Love Never Die followed on and this being the 1st single from the album. The song itself has a rather chilled out melody. Pale Cookies Of Your Insane Beauty was a fantastic tune with a stunning opening. “We only have 2 songs left coz I play too long. Can I play a new song? I guess my record came out last week. Who am I fooling they’re all new songs for you” Sokolinski then asked the audience before My Wishful Thinking. Even though it sounds like a happy song it wasn’t. Soko needed to read the lyrics from her notebook. “I could play with you guys forever. You’re really kind. I don’t know if that’s a church thing or what” and that is very true. Given the time, Soko could play for 3 hours. Back in 2009 the Dingwalls show ended at 11.30. 30 minutes past curfew. She then signed off with Happy Hippy Birthday. The audience joined in with the chanting during this song. When the audience did this it rather quite haunting. It started off gentle and towards the end it got more powerful.

SET LIST

I Cannot Be Bothered To Open My Eyes Again
Crybaby
Nervous Breakdown
I Thought I Was An Alien
People Always Look Better In The Sun
We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow
Don’t You Touch Me
Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate
Treat Your Woman Right
I’ve Been Alone Too Long
For Marlon
My Dreams Dictate My Reality
Little Mermaid Man
I Just Want To Make It New With You
No More Home. No More Love
Fake It Until You Make It
How Are You
Trapped In Freedom
First Love Never Die
Pale Cookies Of Your Insane Beauty
Happy Hippie Birthday

OVERALL: As always with Soko I thoroughly enjoyed this evening. The songs which were played were outstanding plus the album I Thought I Was An Alien is fantastic. Also it was nice that she sang more material as well. I wonder how many tracks that were played tonight would feature on the 2nd album or will it be completely new material. I would love to hear a studio version of Pale Cookies or Nervous Breakdown. It is a shame she doesn’t sing Babycat, I Wanna Look Like A Tiger or I Think I’m Pregnant anymore.

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