Maribou State: Live at Koko

The last 18 months have seen Maribou State go from a little known duo from rural Hertfordshire to one of the biggest names in British electronic music. Last Wednesday saw them end the ‘Portraits’ album tour in one of Camden’s most iconic venues – Koko.

You’ll often see Maribou State on a line up with a small disclaimer, ‘DJ set’. I’d often spotted this and thought nothing of it – I was wrong. The difference between the boys doing a ‘DJ set’ and performing live is astronomical.

Walking through the dark and ominous tunnel between the box office and the arena feels like a wander into a whole new world. A huge subterranean, multi level, venue opens out in front of you. It almost feels like a caricature 1920’s theatre with bright red walls with distinct gold detailing . It really gives the place a unique feeling and certainly felt appropriate for one of the final live appearances the boys would be making for their 2015 album Portraits.


Support came from Khruangbin, a trio from Texas that seem to be starting to break out into the British music scene. Weirdly, their name translates to ‘engine fly‘ in Thai apparently. They were certainly entertaining as the crowd gradually came in from the pouring rain. An uplifting set by a group that has a promising future.

After a short lull whilst the tech team wheeled in a customised Portraits bass drum, Chris and Liam, Maribou State, came on stage to an eruption of cheers from the crowd. Starting with ‘Rituals’ felt like an appropriate way to introduce Danny the drummer’s outstanding skills. It immediately distinguished this as a wholly different experience to when the boys do a DJ set – live drums accompanied with input on guitars by Chris and Liam echoed around Koko in a way that you couldn’t imagine in a club like Motion.

One of the highlights of the night was the decision to bring on Holly Walker. Her incredible vocal ability was on full display and really uplifted the set into something truly special. She didn’t dominate but equally she didn’t blur into the background. A mix of positioning, occasional crowd acknowledgement and sheer passion made her one of the highlights of the night. We really hope she goes on to huge things as well as continuing to work with the guys.


Most of the leading tracks from the Portraits album were played in full; Wallflower, Moon Circles, The Clown, but it was good to hear some of the older tracks and mixes come out in a live set. Midas and Praise You allowed a slight pace change and also a gentle reminder of where Maribou State had come from.

Admittedly, it was a little disappointing to not hear anything from their new EP – Portraits Outtakes. A couple of the songs on there are really good. It also should be noted their set felt a little short, although we didn’t actually time it, I really wanted one or two more tracks.

This can’t take away from the night. A mix of outstanding vocal,s a great performance by Danny the drummer and yet another great show from Maribou State left us feeling both a sense of nostalgia but equally; excitement.

We don’t know what they played for the closing minute before they took their final bow but it sounded amazing – a much darker, techno sounding sample. Whether it was just showing off the lighting, sound system and live performance or whether it was a hint at a new direction we arn’t sure. Either way, an unexpectedly intriguing end to a brilliant show.

Currently, Maribou State are touring with Pedestrian, who have just started releasing tracks on their new label Damadama.



Charlie Mott


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