JP Cooper @ The Bodega, 19/05/2015

Long queues outside of a club are the bane of any night out. However, when it is for Manchester-born singer/songwriter JP Cooper, it is very much a welcomed sight. Despite being hailed as the “Future Sound of 2015” by BBC Radio One, JP is still surprised to see the venue as full as it is. A subtle reminder that irrespective of his growth as an artist, JP Cooper nevertheless possesses a humility that only enhances the authenticity of his music.

The night kicked off with Nottingham based duo, Noah, who delivered a musical blend of soul and folk. With Joe Baxter on the acoustic guitar, and Rebeka Prance on vocals, the two delivered a hauntingly effortless performance. With a personal favourite track, ‘David’ based on a chilling narrative of a dysfunctional relationship between a father and his son. Mike Dignam served us charm and his natural flair on the guitar put the audience in high spirits in anticipation for headline act, JP Cooper.

Bodega in its entirety is the perfect venue for a gig like JP’s. Its size, and the proximity it allows to the artist, enables an intimacy that eludes larger venues. As such it creates a conversational exchange between JP and the audience, with the customary “I love you” nonchalantly (and perhaps wishfully) thrown out by an audience member. And the demographic of the audience is diverse; reflecting the reality that the folk, blues and soul sound of JP really is for everyone.

It is almost tiresome to talk about the beauty of JP’s voice. Because he is consistently flawless. Unfailingly so. It is demonstrated by classic tracks like “Whenever You Hold Me” and “Only Reason” as well as “Satellite” “and “Closer”-songs from his new EP When The Darkness Comes. But also illustrated by unheard tracks like “Masterpiece”, a song about his relationship with his son, which show off his prose-like lyrics …so that without having personally experienced what he’s singing about you nevertheless find yourself embracing a segment of JP’s journey.

While his voice is consistent, not so much his image as “just another singer with an acoustic guitar”. His band, comprising of guys on bass, drums and keys (as well as a perfectly placed carton of Rubicon Mango juice) added an energy that would have been unexpected on certain tracks. Thus demonstrating the versatility of tracks like “Oh, the Water”, which was imbued with a reggae vibe that had audience dancing and throwing out standard skanking fingers by the end of his set.