Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Connan Mockasin – Shepherd's Bush Empire, 28/01/2014

30 January 2014, 15:30 | Written by Amelia Maher

Things have taken a bit of a strange turn here at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The lights have come up, and at centre stage lies a duvet with two bodies hiding underneath. Then, out pops a beautiful Japanese woman in a dressing gown, smiling, thanking Connan Mockasin and mumbling some words in Japanese. She then starts encouraging the audience to chant along with her.

“C-O-N-N-A-N. Connan! C-O-N-N-A-N! CONNAN!”

The tail end of “It’s Your Body 5” eventually stirs the other figure beneath the duvet, and a shaggy haired blonde man emerges, wearing only an open dressing gown and baby pink trousers. No one quite knows what it going on. Then the talented performer launches straight into “I Wanna Roll With You”, remaining mostly under the duvet and it feels as though he is not just serenading his Japanese counter-part, but equally working his charm on the audience. This is the ultimate alternative take on the encore.

Originally from New Zealand, Connan Mockasin is the psych-pop singer-songwriter who has lived all over the world, (although he currently resides in Manchester) and is creating quite a stir. His latest album, the surreal soul and multi-genre inspired Caramel was put together during a stint living in Tokyo, where he recorded the majority in a hotel room and tonight is the perfect display of its sprawling sonic influences and fantastic alternative take on love songs.

It is as much a demonstration of musical ability as it is about performance. The show begins with the shrieking panning sounds of the opening of “Nothing Lasts Forever”, with a single flickering spotlight on Mockasin’s drummer as he plays a simple rhythm, before the lights come up on the whole band – all of whom are fantastically dressed – who launch into a shimmering instrumental. It is obvious throughout that there is not a stone that has gone unturned in the delivery and presentation of this show. Every detail matters.

Although Mockasin confidently commands the stage when he is playing, and deftly changes position, frequently sitting at the front, kicking his legs over the edge or simply parking himself on the floor, he seems a little more hesitant between songs, and announces after a few songs that he is still feeling shy in front of the biggest London audience he has ever played to. Not that he has any reason to be. The audience are lapping up his sublime performance, and burst into a huge, encouraging applause the opening bars of “Do I Make You Feel Shy?” play out.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this performance, however, comes in the way that Connan Mockasin is able to push the boundaries and experiment with his songs and actually pull it off. It seems effortless, as tracks such as “Why Are You Crying?” actually sound more alive and fantastical in the live setting than on record, with Connan’s keyboard/synth player Sofia howling and weeping in her long white dress to astronomical effect. Then comes the sublimely seductive “Caramel” and “I’m The Man, That Will Find You” that are greeted with nothing but pure elation.

The night is drawn to a close with the surreal workings of an extended “Forever Dolphin Love” from his debut album of the same name, where Connan Mockasin acts as a conductor and slows down the tempo, brings it back up to speed and plays around with the audience, against a back drop of aquatic lights. Tonight the audience has been spoiled with a feast of sublime sounds, bizarre stage performance and extravagant lighting displays with a show that was a smooth and enticing as caramel itself.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next