Gig Reviews

Hein Cooper – Newtown Social Club, Sydney 24/03/16

Newtown Social Club is almost at capacity, abuzz with rowdy fans unashamedly excited to see Hein Cooper play out his brand new album The Art of Escape in the flesh.

Not dissimilar in looks to a more tanned, manly version of Justin Bieber, Hein Cooper and his 3-piece fill the room with rolling 80’s toms, chugging guitars and sub-synth bass. Coopers’ falsetto soars atop of it all, and his band members join him in perfect harmony.

The sound has much more complexity and depth than that of the pop singers’ doppleganger: a rich mix of folk, indie, electro and soul.

It’s no surprise to learn that this 23-year-old, charming Aussie muso is a country kid at heart. The backdrop to the stage is a beach. Projected sparkling waves calmly lap the shore behind the band as the glitchy drums and shaker mark the beginning of The Real. The crowd goes wild. Cooper fills out the post-dubstep groove, playing sampled electro percussion while he sings with a washy vocal reverb. The crowd roar along to the chorus over the chugging half-time drums and catchy string synths. There’s so much excitement in the room that when a full beer slips out of a fan’s hands and empties at his feet, he barely looks down, but carries on singing despite the loss.

A stripped-back and cleverly arranged, brooding cover of Kanye’s Runaway has the crowd captivated and singing along. Then, with All My Desires comes a faster, punk vibe equipped with a rocking chorus, shouted backing vocals and massive drums. A song that is all about, as explained by Cooper, “shit that I want that I don’t have”.

He plays the single Rusty from the album and the crowd goes wild roaring the hook at full tilt. When he takes it down a notch for the next track Luna Sky, he sweetly requests a little silence: “this next song only works if the crowd is with me”. As the band leaves the stage the increasingly noisy crowd starts to quieten down in preparation for the solo vocal looping of this obscure and wordy tune. The crowd whole-heartedly cooperates, and surprisingly, for it’s entirety, they are silent while the web of words and melodies take shape.

He finishes off with the title track from his album, and the projected backdrop transforms into a dark forest floor. Moody harmonic finger picking, airy electric guitar twang, and splashing cymbals play out underneath his storytelling vocals. The mobile phones come out, videos are made, and the crowd sings the chorus word for word.

There is no doubt that this will be one of last smaller venue gigs played by Hein Cooper. He is a man beyond his years. His voice is as flawless and laden with emotion as Jeff Buckley and Matt Corby, and to witness him play his songs so intimately was momentous. He is indeed on the cusp of big things with catchy hooks, sweet soundscapes, and flawless heartfelt vocals. The warmth and humility of this true professional leaves no doubt that this country kid is no flash in the pan, but is well and truly here for the long haul.

Gallery: Hein Cooper – Newtown Social Club, Sydney 2016 / Photos By Jess Rae

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