Getintothis’ Thomas Jefferson on Cate Le Bon’s psychedelic melting pot of grooves at Leaf before chatting to Emma Bassnett in a wee stairwell.
As Cate Le Bon steps onto the stage in a shimmering green dress with huge sleeves, guitar in hand, she has the attention of every man, and probably woman in the room.
The Welsh beauty appears to be ploughing a well tilled field with her sultry rock chick looks, yet she wears it well and the band’s set reveals an interesting mix of prog and garage rock alongside her folk rock roots.
The folkier numbers such as Science & Fiction and Eyes So Bright have more charm and are better suited to her beautiful and traditional vocal style, yet the group seem intent on moving away from this sound.
The rest of the set is based around new album, Cyrk, which is a far heavier beast. Reminiscent in places of early Genesis, it feels a lot more like a prog-rock jam, driven by a very strong bass section and of course Le Bon’s stunning vocals.
PJ Harvey and Karen O are other obvious links comparisons, and in the more delicate moments, Le Bon finds the haunting vocal as Alison Goldfrapp.
These finer moments present a quite enchanting spectacle, creating quite an exotic feel, almost like being seduced by a sinister snake charmer.
Although her new material feels slightly forced in an attempt to shake of her folky background, and feels like she is beginning to take a walk down a well tread path, it holds enough sway to keep it interesting.
It is strong and powerful in its arrangement and she is unquestionably a incredibly strong vocal talent to watch out for in the future.
Local support tonight comes from the wonderful psych folk of All We Are.
Since forming just over a year ago they have two EP’s under their belts released on Payper Tiger Records, the latter, We Hunt a real triumph, boosting their credentials and drawing comparisons to Warpaint and The xx.
They open to a strong and attentive crowd, their set is a slow burner, each track building gradually before unleashing itself with surprising power.
Red Sky and Satellite are intricate and subtle before building into something altogether dark and intense. Just as you begin to drift off into their meandering soundscapes, they jerk you back with a killer hook.
This three-piece are strong in every department. The male-female vocal chemistry is hauntingly beautiful, bass patterns are clever and innovative, use of toms and no kick drum works the atmospherics wonderfully well, while singer Richard O’Flynn never misses a beat.
If there is a crowning glory amongst their enthralling set, it is surely Cardhouse.
Here they strip everything back, verses slow and building around simple drum pattern and subtle riff, with a anthemic and uplifting chorus that drifts down the spine like the onset of winter. It shows off everything that this band does well and condenses it into a perfect 3 minute pop song effortlessly.
H. Hawkline plays keys and guitar for Cate Le Bon yet has also thrust himself from the shadows to perform as a solo artist to some critical acclaim from the likes of Gruff Rhys among others.
His live sets are either with a full band and assume a surf rock guise, or else are solo sets telling dark and depressive tales.
Tonight we are ‘treated’ to the latter, except that it does not feel like a treat, more like sucking on a particularly potent Fisherman’s Friend. Not to everyone’s taste.
His lazy, lackadaisical style recalls Jeffrey Lewis if he were on Temazepam.
His guitar sounds brash and piercing, the whole experience an endurance test. In one song he repeats, “you don’t have to suffer”. If only that were true.
His between song banter is probably the highlight, one tale tells of getting beaten up in Rhyl which draws a peal of high pitched hysterical laughter from a large bearded gentlemen that sounds like Keith Lemon after he’s inhaled several helium balloons.
Post gig, Getintothis’ Emma Bassett caught up with Cate to chew the fat while slumped in a fire exit sipping a beer.
Getintothis: What are you most excited about for the coming month?
Cate Le Bon: We are just loving playing at the moment. We are having a great time playing as a band, and I’m not just saying it, but this venue is incredible. Playing in Liverpool reminds me a lot of Cardiff. I’ve got family here so it’s almost like a second home.
It’s always nice to come back. With a Lauren Laverne session coming up and a performance at Festival Number Six in North Wales the band are anything but short of things to do. “We literally go from the festival, straight to America for 3 weeks. I think we will get about 3 hours at home to unpack, repack, and get to the airport.”
Released in April, Cate’s critically acclaimed album Cyrk dropped her back on the map after four years of silence following her debut album Me Oh My.
Without wasting any time, a further EP, Cyrk II was released in to the wild in August. It seems Cate is here to stay this time.
Getintothis: How do you prepare for your time away from home? Does it get easier, the longer you are on the road?
CLB: We have been doing it for so long now so it is getting easier. I’m crap at packing but I’m getting better at it taking less and less stuff. It makes it easier that my boyfriend is in the band too (H. Hawkline).
Her unusual writing style and her eclectic song structure sets her apart from other artists and if this is just the beginning of something big, I can’t wait to see the end product.