A friday night jaunt up to Stoke to The Sugarmill was in order to see Kosheen at one of their rescheduled gigs from last year. A venue I haven’t been to before.

And about that venue, i’d like to touch on that first. It’s an established small venue, been around for many years. A friend of mine had been going there since the 90s and I had heard of it and was interested in seeing it for myself.

Outside it’s very unassuming. Up a side street, away from Stoke centre in Hanley which, i’m sure those who drive will be pleased to know, is close to ample, cheap parking in the surrounding streets. Greeted by the security at the door their manner was pleasant and helpful, really friendly people which is always a welcome thing being the first impression anyone gets when first arriving at a venue.

Once inside it strikes you on how intimate it is, a small space with a small balcony for elevated viewing and a small bar to the side. Once it’s packed though, like it was tonight, it is difficult to get about but when watching a band that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And just like the outside security the pit security were just as helpful and friendly. Definitely a credit to the venue.

First on stage was Frankie Knight. Accompanied by the drummer Rob this 2 piece band hail from all the way down south in Portsmouth. They had spent the tour with Kosheen both last year and completing the remaining dates this year.

Having not heard her before (or I should say them) I didn’t know what to expect but, as one of the crowd said to me after their set, they were the perfect choice for warming the crowd for Kosheen.

The style was delightfully ambient, but not a lacking ambient, an energetic one. Frankie has one of those voices you could listen to for an age. Despite there being just 2 the sound filled the room like the stage was filled, and i suppose that is the wonder of the technology used these days, but they certainly owned the stage.

It’s not often I head to the merch stand after the sets these days but I certainly made the trip this time to pick up a cd so I can listen to them at my leisure, and having a chat with Frankie she is certainly down to earth, humble and a real sweetheart. Onstage Frankie came across as a bit shy but the confidence shined through, projecting her voice with authority and all those that had come down early and caught their set really enjoyed what they heard.

25 minutes was too short a set in my opinion but left me wanting more which is the sign of a great artist. Hard to pick my favourite song played as they were all fantastic but I think “Yellow Bird” had the edge for me.

After a quick tear down and turnaround it was time for Kosheen to join the room. As with the last time I saw them the first sign of their imminent arrival onstage was the opening vocals of “Demonstrate” played over the PA before breaking into “Damage” and as soon as Sian stepped out the place errupted. even now, 25 years after starting out on their musical journey, you can tell that they are well loved, respected and revered.

After the song had finished, and the crowd had whooped, cheered, applauded and shouted, Sian took a moment to address us, saying that the set was going to try and touch on every album which went down an absolute storm.

The first half of the set was the more downtempo side of things, and the crowd, which was very diverse in regards to age, absolutely lapped it up, singing back at Sian with as much passion and energy that she was giving them. You can tell that despite being on that stage admired by many that she is very humble.

Her smile is unmistakenly genuine and her reactions to how much the crowd hold Kosheen in their hearts is real, so much so after hearing them sing back at one point she had to take a moment off stage as she seemed to choke up with emotion. It’s one of the many things that make you love and respect her even more.

The first half included “Hungry”, “All In My Head” and “Boy In The Picture”.

Sian is also an outspoken ambassador about being yourself, about not letting anyone stop you from dancing, singing, enjoying life and being you, and she reminded the fans of this numerous times throughout the set.

The second half of the set touched on the livelier side of the back catalouge, and I have NEVER heard such a small venue get so loud in my days of gigging. Kicking off with Up2U Sian was bouncing around that stage and making the space her own, with her infectious energy and love for what they do. There’s very few that can make the live Drum & Bass/Dance experience what Kosheen make it and you always feel like part of the show.

The second haldf of the show included “Pride”, “Hide U” and “Louder”.

Tonights show proved to everyone in attendance that Kosheen are STILL one of the best live acts touring today and I urge anyone who hasn’t seen them yet to go and see them, it’s an experience you will want to live again and again.

Kosheen play 3 special shows with an Orchestra (something they are immensly proud and excited about) in april: 12th April: Club Acadamy, Manchester, 13th April: Marble Factory, Bristol (A home city show which i bound to be spectacular) and 19th April: Koko, London.