Cate Le Bon, gig review: 'distinctive yet charming'

Bush Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

Let’s get it out the way: Cate Le Bon’s low, wandering, dark-violet vocals do sound a lot like Nico. Or maybe the love-child of Nico and John Cale, for Le Bon also sounds very Welsh. Also, to clarify, she’s also in no way related to Simon Le Bon - adopting his surname was an in-joke that’s been publicly cemented.

Throughout the gig, Le Bon exhibits a bone-dry, low-key humour; she first appears an unsmilingly cool frontwoman, all cheekbones and eyeliner, but by the time she’s corpsing during a high-pitched duet with bandmate (and boyfriend) Huw Evans on “Falcon Eyed”, we’ve taken her to our hearts.

Le Bon's music is a strange patchwork of her distinctive, metallically clanging guitar and mangled organ sounds, clarinet and sax nudging into corners. Live, it's muddier and rockier, the jagged jangle emphasised. If that sounds a bit out-there, it’s worth stating that Le Bon also knows her way around a tune too. 

But even on the most accessible numbers from recent album Mug Museum - the rhythm & blues swaggering “No God”, the positively Ziggy-ish “Are You With Me Now?” or bouncy opener “I Can’t Help You” - there’s a hint of menace; she makes a line like “beat me like egg yolks” sound both charming and worrisome.