After gracing opener Kevin Morby’s set with a vocal contribution on the lonesome “Slow Train”, Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon began her own set, dark and cool, smocked in black. She said she hadn’t expected the freezing air here, and began to warm us up.
Her style is neo-classic, thick with bass, and folksy, with off-kilter psychedelic tendencies. This makes for the perfect vinyl album. She swung her guitar back and forth to the slow rhythms, and picked through fast romps like “Sisters”. At times, the keyboard/organ solos felt like traveling back in time to a Doors show, then Cate joked of a “future song” about Bill and Ted: a little bit of country, a little bit of new wave beeping melody, called “He’s Leaving”.
While that song cries for the loss of a male figure, much of her new album Mug Museum is inspired by the reshaping roles of the women in her family. It is a mourning album, and a celebration album, following the death of her grandmother.
This makes sense for the video of “Are You With Me Now”. We see Cate’s secret talent within the “Mug Museum”, taught to her by the ghostly hands and other small hints that have her feeling her grandmothers presence. Other family is there carrying on the tradition, including Le Bon’s niece, the same adorable little girl from Cyrks “Puts Me To Work” video. It’s obvious Le Bon is proud of her family’s strength and creativity, and it comes through her work in a timeless live performance.
She hit high notes, and low notes, drawing some of them out impressively. Songs are thick and emotionally at hand while still an arms length away, as she’s noting them in verse. Her lightest moment was as she covered Joe Jackson’s 1979 track “It’s Different For Girls”, but she then returned to her serious stance when the small crowd conjured a two song encore: first the dark title track from 2009’s Me Oh My, and then “Wild”, where she chimed about hypocrisy and “knitted scarves for Christmas”, before the song broke into a completely wild ride of instrumentation.
Words and Photos by Brandy Crowe