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Connan Mockasin left us brilliantly confused at The Barbican

05 November 2018, 13:46 | Written by Cal Byrne

You’re never sure where the joke starts and ends with Connan Mockasin.

Playing as ‘The Jassbusters’ for the first time in London, Mockasin performed fully in character as a 1970s school teacher for the first half of his show. His fictional band – the aforementioned Jassbusters – played almost the entirety of his latest album, including lots of noodling and goofy asides. But this was only the entrée. The night opened with a short film, ‘Bostyn ‘N Dobsyn’, featuring the same characters, with Mockasin reprising his role as the inappropriate school teacher ‘Mr Dobysn’.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, that’s the point.

Suggestion and intrigue are a big part of what Mockasin does. If you’re entirely sure of what’s going on then you’ve probably missed the point. The New Zealander appears to be operating on another plane to most artists, pushing boundaries with the music he makes while poking fun at it at the same time. Even when ditching the character after the interval, the off-the-wall humour remains the same, with Mockasin thrusting his hips around state and straddling his guitar like a cock-rocker of old.

Whether during set highlight ‘Choade My Dear’ or the epic ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ it’s hard not to be impressed by the level of control. His band are as tight as Mockasin is loose as the Kiwi conducts them through several long jams moving up and down the tempos. Ending on ‘Lying Has To Stop’ – from 2016 side project Soft Hair – Mockasin left the stage to a standing ovation as a sold-out Barbican tried to make sense of what they had seen.

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