There was an immense amount of disappointment when Hollie Cook had to postpone her Brighton performance a couple of weeks ago due to the illness of a band member which, subsequently, made the rescheduled show all the more enjoyable. “Brighton, I made it!” Hollie Cook uttered as she leapt onto The Haunt’s stage, with a knowing nod to her cancellation a fortnight prior. Not that the exuberant Brighton crowd cared about the prolonged wait for Cook’s return to Brighton, however, as even an inkling of annoyance was washed away with the Londoner’s exquisite set brimming with the old and the new. The cancellation meant that this was now the final date of the tour, which has travelled all the way across Europe, and it was a huge celebratory affair and an all round love-in between the artist and the audience.
The opening act for the night, and indeed the whole European tour, was Cook’s backing band General Roots. Opening with a swift, “It’s cold outside Brighton, we’re here to warm you up”, they performed a set crowded with fun and lively reggae tunes. None more so than ‘Walk Tall’, which has the euphoric nature to be a hit, and ‘Raver’s Delight’, which sounds like the perfect mid-afternoon festival banger. General Roots certainly warmed the Brighton crowd up, but they also proved a captivating and fun live band, worthy of playing venues like this in their own right.
This evening was all about Miss Cook, though, and the audience, filled with a surprising amount of youngsters, was bursting with anticipation. As she arrived on stage, it was immediately evident that Cook was looking to make things right for their first ever rescheduled show. Throughout her set, she was dancing around the stage, throwing outrageous shapes, and simply being an all round bundle of energy. She seems to genuinely love Brighton and whether she’s talking about writing songs here, or singing odes to the beach, there’s an infectious energy hurdling its way around The Haunt all night.
Of course, three studio albums deep now, she’s certainly got the songs to carry this bombast. The hits – ‘Milk & Honey’, ‘99’ and ‘Tiger Balm’ – all sound magnificent, featuring massive basslines that give the songs, and the gig, a tropical atmosphere, which is most impressive considering it’s sub-zero outside. Likewise, new song ‘Stay Alive’ sees Cook sounding a lot more soulful, with genuine emotion pouring from her voice. Vessel of Love has no doubt made Cook a more refined artist, and it’s extremely evident from her live show just how much she’s grown as a performer.
Whether it’s because she had to reschedule the last Brighton gig, or because it’s the last show of the entire tour, or just whether Hollie Cook is this dedicated a performer all the time, there’s a personability to her live performance, so much so that the youngsters of the audience were desperate to lock eyes, dance, or hold the hand of Cook, which she delicately obliged. As well as this, there’s also a heaped amount of fun factor that almost made this gig unmissable. Not to worry, though, as she announced towards the end of her set: she’s playing Concorde 2 in October, and, from the audible levels of applause to that statement, I think that one might be a sell-out too. Cancelled gig. What cancelled gig?