Photography: Lucy McLachlan / @LucyMcLachlan_

Hollie Cook

I Love Live Events @ District 9/10/18

District is the perfect venue to host a former member of the (briefly reformed) post-punk band, The Slits. District has DIY punk aesthetic in its DNA; as does HOLLIE COOK, tonight’s headliner.

Formed in 1976, dissolved in 1982, and subsequently re-formed in 2005, The Slits redefined the concept of the ‘girl band’ with their era-defining debut Cut. This was followed by their sophomore effort Return Of The Giant Slits in 1981, which saw the band experimenting with a softer African sound. Hollie Cook’s first appearance as backing vocalist and keyboardist for The Slits was on the 2006 EP Revenge Of The Killer Slits, alongside her father, Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. This EP, along with The Slits’ 2009 LP Trapped Animals, further explored elements of reggae.

After The Slits, Cook released her own self-titled reggae album in 2011, followed by Twice in 2014, and her latest album Vessel Of Love earlier this year. It is this uplifting fusion of reggae and pop that Cook brings to Liverpool, like a ray of sunshine that acts as a reminder of the warmest summer days.

Hollie Cook Image 2

For her headline appearance in Liverpool, Hollie Cook greets us all with her infectious smile; a smile that never leaves her face – or her audience’s faces – for the duration of her mesmerising set. Performing alongside General Roots – a band, and perhaps more accurately, a group of friends with a passion for reggae music – Cook’s songs feel like they were written for the stage rather than the studio. As she sings her way through songs from all three LPs, her energy and charisma is matched by General Roots’ captivating performance.

Gracefully dancing in the small space District offers, partially lit by the pink flamingo lights that adorn her mic stand, Cook rallies the crowd with her tropical sounds that have us swaying along to each guitar riff resonating from the stage. Guitarist Joe Price is particularly impressive, incorporating acid blues guitar solos effortlessly into dub-infused-reggae melodies.

Oozing with confidence, Cook’s combination of personality, vocal talent and lovers rock has everyone transfixed. She genuinely loves the music she creates and performs, humbly thanking her audience for joining her on this journey – a journey that started with The Slits’ progressive experimentation, and continues with Cook’s own evolution from the dubbier influences of Prince Fatty, to ethereal tropical pop sounds, solidifying Hollie Cook as one of the most exciting artists in reggae.

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