If GoGo Penguin had been around when you were in school, you might have been persuaded to stick at those music lessons. In the same way that Ella Fitzgerald made everyone want to nonsense-sing the one note samba in 1969, this Mancurian trio present their instruments – piano, double bass and drums – in their coolest, most enviable form.
The day’s unpredictability (rain, then shine, then rain again) spills into Koko’s evening. What’s curious is that – judging by the cocktail dresses and denim shorts – no one can quite predict the season, or the occasion. This might be because most genres are invited to GoGo Penguin’s party. Traditional Jazz hosts, refills Classical’s drink, both in conversation with Modest Electronica and Techno. What with the band’s most recent album v2.0 snagging them a Mercury Prize nomination, it’s no wonder they’re still filling venues to the brim a year on.
The trio kick off with what they tell us has become their ultimate opening pattern: new number, ‘F’, and favourites from v2.0, big-beat ‘Murmuration’ and ‘One Percent’, that rolls up and fall out like a heavy ribbon. The heads of the crowd, though layered throughout the tall theatre, all quiver to GoGo Penguin’s rhythm. Drummer Rob’s head of bells come alive during the mid-show’s eccentric percussion, Nick knuckles his double bass to and fro on its stand during ‘Garden Dog Barbeque’, and Chris tugs on his piano keys as if the heartstrings of a distant lover during ‘To Drown In You’.
Despite awesome manipulation of their individual instruments, it’s the balance of beat and melody in numbers like encore ‘Hopopono’ that seems to epitomise GoGo Penguin’s style. Like an old school jazz trio, each has his solo moment, but no one man is the lead.