Cocteau Twins : Classic or Dud

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (239 of them)

the way songs build to a sort of euphoric climax... does that make sense?
― A Little Princess btw (s1ocki), Wednesday, March 28, 2012 10:27 AM

My friend and I used to call this the Cocteau structure. It's very minimalist and repetitive for most of the song and then BAM it explodes into fireworks and confetti and sometimes swooshes of caramel and cotton candy.
― LeRooLeRoo, Wednesday, March 28, 2012 5:43 PM

I feel a thread coming on...

Hideous Lump, Thursday, 29 March 2012 02:50 (five years ago) Permalink

the kid arrested for his hair went on to drum for majesty crush.

keythhtyek, Thursday, 29 March 2012 02:54 (five years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

Jesus, Liz's show is tomorrow and she hasn't cancelled yet. Trying not to jinx it, but it looks like this is actually going to happen. Haven't seen her perform in 20 years maybe and can't wait?

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Friday, 3 August 2012 20:54 (five years ago) Permalink

a few Cocteaus tracks are promised aren't they? so.. an Ivo here maybe or a Heaven Or Las Vegas there. it'll be very exciting either way!

piscesx, Saturday, 4 August 2012 00:58 (five years ago) Permalink

OK, I know of one ILXor going to the RFH and have told him not to read here. I'm not prepared to spoiler it for others if some of you are going so shout up or I will review tomorrow afternoon.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Saturday, 4 August 2012 22:17 (five years ago) Permalink

just put SPOILER ALERT and skip a bunch of lines....must know how it was!!

Iago Galdston, Saturday, 4 August 2012 22:53 (five years ago) Permalink

Ok, will post a summary of my thoughts at about 1300 GMT tomorrow unless someone expressly asks me not to.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Saturday, 4 August 2012 23:44 (five years ago) Permalink

fwiw a couple of robin guthrie's collaborations w/harold budd are now available on limited edition vinyl, i picked this one up a couple days back:

omar little, Saturday, 4 August 2012 23:46 (five years ago) Permalink

This thread just reminded me of the exhilarating climax of "The Spangle Maker." Shocks me every single time.

Turangalila, Sunday, 5 August 2012 06:35 (five years ago) Permalink




piscesx, Sunday, 5 August 2012 10:42 (five years ago) Permalink


Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 11:18 (five years ago) Permalink

Like I seriously cosidered a UK trip for this but I didnt trust Liz with her withdrawing from things, and who am i kidding I couldnt have afforded a UK trip anyway, but I want to know how this went!

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 11:19 (five years ago) Permalink

btw is that setlist for real? Its horribly mispelt :/

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 11:33 (five years ago) Permalink

searching her name on Twitter confirms the encore repeatedly


steven fucking tyler (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Sunday, 5 August 2012 11:50 (five years ago) Permalink




It wasn't very good. In fact, it was one of the most disappointing shows I've ever been at.

I've tried to think overnight about the reasons why, and there are a great many. Firstly, this feels more like a reunion show than any other I've been to - and over the past few years I've done lots; Pixies, MBV, Go4, YMG, Stooges, MC5, Flipper, Sleep, Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid. But it has none of the energy and joy of those, there's an overwhelming sense of going through the motions. The audience doesn't help, as it mainly comprises late 40s/50somethings that look like the closest they've got to live music since the days of their youth was watching Alan Metcalfe down the wine bar doing Mary Hopkin numbers. Liz herself seems to be joining in, wearing a silver sparkly puffball skirt that clearly hasn't been out of her wardrobe since Charles and Di were still married and her keyboard player - a dead ringer for Jed Hoyle that used to dance for Howard Jones - seems to be wearing a leftover black clown costume from Bowie's Ashes To Ashes video.

Those things are trivial though. The real issues are on stage. The simple truth is that Liz's voice isn't what it was, in any way, shape or form. She's talked in recent interviews about singing quietly now and that she can't do the 'shouting over a wall of noise' any more, but the reality is that it robs her of so very much that made her so special and her range seems massively reduced too. She used to soar like a bird, with huge swooping strokes, whereas now she hops around, curiously one-note, like one of those birds of paradise that are just about their plumage. Still identifiably a bird, yes, but one to look at more than anything else. She's so quiet that she is frequently overwhelmed by the other musicians and, more tellingly, by her backing singers - one of whom is a much better singer than she is. It's also far too quiet overall for me. The guitarist, shorn of Robin's effects board and his volume, is just another bloke playing Byrdsian jangly chords on a solid body Rickenbacker. The keyboards sound like standard 80s wipes. The bass is mixed weirdly, so that the very bottom end booms (even though it is rarely used) with the mid-range muddy and is somewhat indistinct in the overall mix.

Those are fixable, possibly, with better sound at the RFH and a sound system which bands can use rather than one more used to covers bands at the beer festival. The new arrangements of the songs, even if purely so Liz can still sing them, can't be fixed between now and the RFH. Donimo makes me want to cry, and not in a good way. I can't even bring myself to politely clap at the end of it. Everything has been retooled and reworked, in nearly every case taking the dynamism and emotion out. Pearly Dew Drops Drops is being sung by a housewife at the kitchen sink, mumbling under her breath as she washes up. The glorious shout of joy delivered before the drum break and the end is reduced to a "woo-oo-oo". Song To The Siren features about half the tune of any of the previous versions, and unable to do THAT penultimate line the song just peters out with the the final "waiting to hold you" delivered at a rush as part of the curtailed previous line.

The new stuff is of quite a nice Lynch soundtrack feel, but overall the sound which is delivered is almost cafe jazz or World Stage Glastonbury. In fact the whole experience is like if Peter Gabriel hadn't played since leaving Genesis and then came back with the Secret World. It's just so bloody NICE - no, inoffensive. You could imagine the cd being sold on 'other people who bought also bought' Amazon recommendations alongside Take That and Elton John. You could easily imagine it being played as muzak in The Body Shop.

The thing that hurts me the most is, as I've said before, Liz lives on my street which possibly makes this just a personal observation. I see her in the supermarket, the butchers, whatever all the time. I fully expected last night to see her on stage and go FUCKING HELL THAT'S LIZ FRASER OUT OF THE COCTEAU TWINS. Instead she's made LIZ FRASER OUT OF THE COCTEAU TWINS into that woman in the supermarket. Turned the spectacular into the mundane. The anti-Midas touch. That's why I wanted to cry yesterday.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:26 (five years ago) Permalink

wow. thanks for that, even if totally depressing.

Iago Galdston, Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:29 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh. Wow. :/

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:32 (five years ago) Permalink

The idea especially of her having fucking *backing singers* makes me ill.

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:34 (five years ago) Permalink

tbh I had this feeling about "milk and kisses" (tho Ive warmed on it more since knowig about the whole Buckley angle) but yeah. Bergh.

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:40 (five years ago) Permalink

Maybe I'm being too harsh but the run from Head Over Heels to Love's Easy Tears meant so much it me it was hard not to personalise it. Maybe the RFH sound will fix some of the problems. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I wanted it to sound like it did then and just wasn't prepared to take this show at face value.

But blasting The Pink Opaque right now I don't think so.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 13:01 (five years ago) Permalink

Wow, it really sucks to hear all that about the concert, but thanks a lot for the review.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Sunday, 5 August 2012 13:38 (five years ago) Permalink

i feared something like this. holy shit though..

piscesx, Sunday, 5 August 2012 14:09 (five years ago) Permalink

there's a very different take on last night over at Dr0wned 1n S0und...

piscesx, Sunday, 5 August 2012 14:11 (five years ago) Permalink

I'll give him that, the very top of her register is still lovely but she only really used it on the new songs. Where she used it on Cocteaus material the backing singers were doing the bulk of the work.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 14:23 (five years ago) Permalink

This is all reminding me of nothing so much as the Four Calendar Cafe tour, Liz on stage but hidden in the arrangements and barely engaging with the songs.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 5 August 2012 14:27 (five years ago) Permalink

I just played Donimo to Frances (who is not all that when it comes to the 'non-famous' Cocteaus songs) and she swears blind it bears no resemblance to anything that went on last night. She didn't even recognise the vocal line, or the bits of it Liz kept.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 15:34 (five years ago) Permalink

It has just struck me. It was like watching ENYA. Draw your own conclusions.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 17:53 (five years ago) Permalink

Hahah oh my.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 5 August 2012 18:10 (five years ago) Permalink

I have now realised if she had done The Spangle Maker, Hitherto or From The Flagstones then I think I would have physically wept. And cursed humanity. And gone hone and died.

I am looking for minor plusses, she didn't butcher my absolute favourites. (Say it out loud, never liked Pearly Dewdrops that much.)

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 18:23 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm not a huge fan of Harold Budd but doesn't that packaging remind you of running to the record store every time a new 4AD came out?

I'm such a stan for Head over Heels...I guess because it is so un-pop and everyone likes the more accessible albums. I like the crazy sludge of it.

โตเกียวเหมียวเหมียว aka Truck Bombing Begins at Home (Mount Cleaners), Sunday, 5 August 2012 18:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I have no horse in the race - I don't go to reunion gigs as a general rule though I will say that Mission of Burma have basically written the textbook on How To Do A Reunion And Emerge With All Your Dignity Intact - but I have to say that lines like this

The audience doesn't help, as it mainly comprises late 40s/50somethings that look like the closest they've got to live music since the days of their youth was watching Alan Metcalfe down the wine bar doing Mary Hopkin numbers

cast a cloud of suspicion over the rest of the review; it's the sort of observation that suggests the author was looking for something more than music from the gig, which the gig could only have delivered by featuring a fountain of youth at the entrance.

steven fucking tyler (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Sunday, 5 August 2012 20:02 (five years ago) Permalink

Think what you like -admittedly that's the sort of thing in a paid review that would raise my hackles too - but it was one of the strangest crowds I've seen. The woman from two doors up the street was there, for example, and she never goes out to see music.

Take my Bad News reference out and think instead that I'm trying to evoke how old EVERYBODY was. Like they were searching for your fountain of youth, or their own, preserved in amber since 1990.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 20:14 (five years ago) Permalink

Also when you're told to TURN UP AT 7 WITHOUT FAIL for a show with no support that doesn't start till 8:45 and with only one room then there isn't much else to do but observe other people.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Sunday, 5 August 2012 20:19 (five years ago) Permalink

Where's the DiS review/discussion? I cant see a thing.

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Monday, 6 August 2012 01:02 (five years ago) Permalink

I know it's not what this revive is about, but there's something just overwhelmingly sweet about that Columbus, Ohio news spot--the open-mindedness and optimism are like a best case scenario for the stereotypical "liberal media."

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 6 August 2012 01:29 (five years ago) Permalink

Thanks so much for the review, aldo, even if it confirmed my worst fears about Liz' current state as a performer.
I can't help but think that there are very few scenarios outside of reuniting with CT in which she could give a great performance - and even that would seem to depend on many factors. What a beautiful tragedy, her musical relationship with Robin Guthrie.

I don't think she's doing herself any favors (as a musician) with the company she's keeping these days (her 'touring band'). I tend to find her infinitely more effective as a singer when she's working with a very singular sound palette. And really, what are the chances that a standard rock band set up is going to achieve something half as striking as CT?

So, her voice is not what it used to be. I don't think that stopped her from turning in knockout performances with Massive Attack (as recently as 2006). Short of a one-in-a-million chance that CT could successfully reunite and capture that lighting again, I think Liz could still do some beautiful work with the right electronic producer.

I could see a Burial collaboration producing stunning results - especially now that his work has veered into more ambient territory.

azaera, Monday, 6 August 2012 04:02 (five years ago) Permalink

I've been thinking about this and I think it might be a little unfair to be disappointed because it wasn't a Cocteau Twins gig, which is kind of what you're saying aldo. I mean, I get why! But I think its fair that she should be allowed to move into new territory and if her voice is gentler now, then well, thats as it is. TBH I'd rather that that the bizarre scatsinging donkey-yelp phase she went through during the mid 90s tours.

I mean, even the Massive Attack stuff was just her quieter higher register (esp on "teardrop"). Last time I think Ive heard her really belt something out was that bootleg "all flowers" thingy she did with Jeff B.

Pureed Moods (Trayce), Monday, 6 August 2012 04:28 (five years ago) Permalink

You're right, and now I've slept on it again that was really one of the major factors - but to a degree making the comparison isn't surprising when half the set is Cocteau Twins songs.

OK, the reality is that the new material is Real Worlds Peter Gabriel world music stuff and is not for me. The CTs songs have been redressed in the same style. It's not something I would choose to listen to and the name Liz Fraser (which, if we're admitting she's not the same singer she was is all it is - a name) isn't enough to make me or win me over. And Song To The Siren was rotten, no matter who was singing it.

The fixable stuff needs to be - turn Liz up, turn the backing singers WAY down, turn the guitar up (and maybe add more Chorus), mix the bass properly, increase the size of the drum baffle, lose the keyboards altogether. But then that's mixing it back to how I think it should be, and not the target audience (whoever that is) so maybe don't do any of that either.

I'll be intrigued to see what other people think. I know of one ILXor going tonight and I told him not to read this, and that I wasn't discussing it with him till afterwards so his opinion won't be coloured by this.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Monday, 6 August 2012 09:14 (five years ago) Permalink

piscesx, Monday, 6 August 2012 23:22 (five years ago) Permalink

wait so there are people who like the music of the cocteau twins who think that is not awesome? ok I guess, takes all kinds of opinions. I was expecting catastrophe but that was just fantastic

steven fucking tyler (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 00:57 (five years ago) Permalink

I was at RFH last night. First things first, I am a mate of aldo's irl and I genuinely love him like a brother. And like all good brother relationships it means you can disagree and in this case he is wrong, with a few valid points.

He is correct about the sound level - I, too,,would have preferred it louder. He is also correct about Donimo, which was the only major disappointment for me. I think Trayce is correct here - this wasn't a Cocteau's reunion and shouldnt be approached as such but Donimo had lost most of its dynamism and had nothing to replace it. Where as Pearly Dewdrop became something else entirely. The joy was replaced by a gorgeous wistfulness. This was Liz saying 'we can't go back and that is sad, but what we have now can be good if different'. This was intelligent nostalgia and, yes, it was probably partly driven by Liz's vocal frailties, but was nevertheless intensely moving.

The new stuff was quite simply beautiful. I can see the 'real world' comparison but I was thinking more eno ambient than Peter Gabriel. And it melded beautifully into the reworked Cocteau's songs. If this stuff ever comes out on a Cd I will be first in the queue.

A word about the backing singers; they were stunning. Gorgeous voices taking the parts Liz couldn't, mainly not because of failings In her voice, but because of the vocal arrangements which were actually quite close to the recordings on most of the Cocteau's part of the set. The musicians were excellent, the sound was astoundingly clean and the 'back projections' simple and effective. A guest appearance by Steve Hackett was also welcome. Say what you like about him, that man can sure play a guitar.

Siren. I am not sure if the You Tube gets across how emotional this was. Yes, it was virtually a different song but once you get over that this reworking was magical. Actually, the major shock was that Liz sang the words correctly!

I said to Aldo last night that it was in my top ten gigs ever. That is hyperbole, but it was tremendous, moving and unforgettable. And if I could get tickets for tonight I would!

Guilty_Boksen, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 08:17 (five years ago) Permalink

After you said that I was half expecting to say "wow, she didn't sound like that on Saturday", but I genuinely think the vocal performance there is awful. Having admitted that Cocteaus baggage coloured my opinions, I'd be tempted to admit the same baggage is colouring other people's in the other direction. From a level playing field and without the LiZ effect I think we'd all be more critical.

It does sound like a lot of the sound issues were fixed in a decent room though. And we didn't get Steve Hackett in Bath.

passive-aggressive display name (aldo), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 08:25 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah that clip is amazing imo. but then i didnt pay to see it. looks like The Graun will be doing a rave as Alexis P was saying he was blown away.

piscesx, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 08:48 (five years ago) Permalink

Not to rain on any parades, but live Cocteau Twins, at least mid-tour during their later era (New Orleans '91 and Houston '94), were a very iffy proposition. Raymonde and the hired help rather professional, Guthrie chewing gum and looking at the ductwork, and Fraser doing dolphin noise improvisations that only occasionally converged on the tune. It meandered, a lot, without the measured crescendos that must have been constructed from dozens of studio takes and a lot of meth. This live performance from the same tour is a good deal better than the shows I saw:

The Painter of Blight™ (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 12:16 (five years ago) Permalink

After you said that I was half expecting to say "wow, she didn't sound like that on Saturday", but I genuinely think the vocal performance there is awful. Having admitted that Cocteaus baggage coloured my opinions, I'd be tempted to admit the same baggage is colouring other people's in the other direction. From a level playing field and without the LiZ effect I think we'd all be more critical.

I've always appreciated the Cocteaus but have never been a massive fan/follower; in fact, I just started getting Cocteaus albums beyond Milk and Kisses 3 years ago. That performance was... okay? It was very tender and deliberate and obviously meant a lot to the crowd but "Song of the Siren" is a song that I liked a lot more when Messiah sampled it so it never had major emotional impact for me; this rendition basically hit me the same way as the original.

I think she did what she set out to do, and that thing is something that I only ever sporadically get on board with, so I guess in a totally blase way I'm siding with aero here.

keeping things contextual (DJP), Tuesday, 7 August 2012 13:24 (five years ago) Permalink

I was there tonight and I'm with guilty_boksen. The new material was really extraordinary. I was thinking... Bill Nelson on "Gone To Earth", Philip Glass sopranos (the BVs)... and, wow, Liz (maybe not Robin) is the one with the melodic gift. The mix was great, she sounded terrific and they could have ditched the Cocteaus material and I'd still have loved it.

Michael Jones, Tuesday, 7 August 2012 23:42 (five years ago) Permalink

^^ What he said. Loved how this line-up reclaimed the Cocteaus from being merely proto-shoegazers, and instead suggested an altogether richer, stranger avant-pop act - the missing link between Another Green World and Bitte Orca. Loved the Fripptastic guitarist. Loved the pound-shop Eno guy on keys. Loved the new material, which seemed oddly redolent of Billy Mackenzie and Barry Adamson. All in all probably the best gig I've seen in the last five years. Strangely grateful to Aldo for making the sheer excellence of it all such a glorious surprise.

Stevie T, Wednesday, 8 August 2012 00:02 (five years ago) Permalink

Invoking Billy M is good enough for me!

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 8 August 2012 00:03 (five years ago) Permalink

that 'song to the siren' performance is awesome!

i did watch the other guy's video of her doing 'pearly-dewdrops drops' from the same set tho and yeah her voice is barely audible on the chorus

half-worm inchworm tapeworm (donna rouge), Wednesday, 8 August 2012 00:15 (five years ago) Permalink

the guy's other video*

half-worm inchworm tapeworm (donna rouge), Wednesday, 8 August 2012 00:15 (five years ago) Permalink

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.