Monday, 2 December 2013

Review of Cate Le Bon at Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush, London, on November 27, 2013

Cate Le Bon has got hair like Joey Ramone, a voice like a cocktail of Maddy Prior shaken with Nico and a live sound that mashes up Ivor Cutler, clarinets and £4 cans of cold Guinness.

She stepped straight out of the singer-songwriter Sixties and on to the stage of the beautifully bohemian Bush Hall and coolly plucked off the tracklist from new album Mug Museum under the dripping chandeliers and a cloak of deadly nightshade.

As Welsh as Welshpool, Le Bon stared us down straight through the fringe and defied us not to admire her nimble fretwork, her mastery of folky indie pop and her bearded drummer. And admire them we did, drowning under the art deco alabaster and wishing she'd damn well quit the too-cool-for-school routine and give it some real welly.

She almost, almost got going, and we got to our feet like refugees from Manchester Poly and watched and waited to see if she would. But apart from the bit where she forgot the chords and had to start again with a winning chuckle that hinted at the true spirit of her band, it never quite kicked off like the YouTube videos which tempted us to miss Man City v Viktoria Plzen in the first place.

If you ask me, and I know you didn't, Le Bon's live sound is too polite, a mish-mash of styles that lacks distinctiveness and enough decent hooks. It needs to break free, smash through the birdcage like a cuckoo through the walls and kick some ass. To misquote Joey, we don't wanna be sedated.