If you’re told that a gig is lasting from 6 until 9 in an evening, what time would you turn up? I thought I was being a tad over-eager to show my face at 6.45. But, the truth is that I’d been looking forward to seeing The Robocobra Quartet upstairs at Nottingham’s Rough Trade since I’d chanced upon their music and sneaked an advance copy of their forthcoming album, Music For All Occasions. It truly is an album of the year, which oddly is also the subject of the final tune (and stand-out track) on it.
“Thanks for being a decent audience. We’ll sign stuff at the merch desk but we’re in a massive rush to catch the boat back to Belfast”, says Chris Ryan, drummer and vocalist. “This is our last tune.” And the realisation sinks in. I’d missed out on this by being too casual. I still hadn’t had my tea.
I saw enough to know that The Robocobra Quartet are incredibly important. Post-rock, down tempo jazz influenced angst has hardly been something I’ve given much consideration towards in the past. Truly though, I’m not sure I’ve really heard much like this before. Unique and inventive whilst remaining accessible, it’s intensely satisfying stuff. The spoken word lyrics seem to make sense over the woodwind and bass even though the reality is that they’re fragments of nonsense on repeat.
The final tune, the one I hear, is Correct. This was the piece that had initially drawn me to the Robocobra Quartet. It’s delivered with intense panache in this live setting. Drummer Chris loses himself amidst the staccato sax as he spits and sweats his way to the conclusion. The band leave the stage. I shake their hands and commit to seeing a full set very soon.
Later, as I drink another pint, I spy others entering the venue expecting to see a band in full flow. They’re already on their way home. The disappointment is tempered by the knowledge that these guys will be back. They’ll make 2017 interesting.