Tag Archives: Nico

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Cate Le Bon Shows The Bowery Ballroom a Good Time

January 27th, 2017

Cate Le Bon – The Bowery Ballroom – January 26, 2017

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Welsh musician Cate Le Bon has a unique sound—a voice not unlike the rich throb of Nico’s, with the addition of some amped-up exuberance and a penchant for jangly guitars. Last night at The Bowery Ballroom, Le Bon and her band brought a focused energy to their performance, highlighting songs from 2016’s Crab Day, as well as crowd-pleasing material from its predecessor, Mug Museum.

Le Bon and her band’s precision and cohesion came through in particular during their version of Crab Day’s “How Do You Know?” a song that culminated with the singer-songwriter staring out at the crowd, rhythmically nodding her head, almost robotically, to the beat, as she and her bandmates strummed a repeated riff, slowing down bit by bit. As the speed decreased, so too did Le Bon, mimicking a machine shutting down and eventually stopping, head and body limply hunched over her guitar. Moments later, she was suddenly upright again, launching into the jaunty “I Can’t Help You” and even letting out a few excited yelps at the end.

After performing some new material and bringing out the night’s opener (and Le Bon’s frequent musical collaborator), Tim Presley, to accompany the band on a few songs, Le Bon treated us to Mug Museum’s “Are You With Me Now?”—an eminently catchy crowd-pleaser that featured lovely backing harmonies from the band. It was a sweet nightcap, and if I had to answer the song’s question based upon crowd response, I’d give it a resounding yes: We are with you, Cate Le Bon. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK

 

 

 

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Cate Le Bon Harnesses Tension at Rough Trade NYC

May 6th, 2016

Cate Le Bon – Rough Trade NYC – May 5, 2016

Cate Le Bon – Rough Trade NYC – May 5, 2016
Cate Le Bon is an alt-folkie with an art-punk problem. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or maybe it’s neither and that she’s sort of an outgrowth of ’60s psych pop with a generous helping of unknowable, but still accessible Nico-style experimental rock. Or maybe you’re already pigeonholing her. Genre smashing is itself a pigeonhole: It implies a sort of off-the-rails collision of ideas and splattering of preconceived notions of what an indie-rock or indie-pop act might sound like. And as you watch Le Bon strut her stuff—torture that guitar, head bang, smile mischievously, artfully tease her bandmates in a faux flirty way—there’s no question she’s not only not off the rails, but of course well in command of whatever you call this, which can be poppy or delicate, sweet or tangy, angst-y or gnarly, but is definitely rock and roll with a touch of cultured madness.

Two of the songs late in her hour-long set last night at Rough Trade NYC, “Cuckoo Through the Walls” and “What’s Not Mine,” ended with protracted excursions, Crazy Horse–style peels of guitar noise and screwy-sounding sonic effects that Le Bon appeared lost in, and then smiled about, resolving guitar chaos into calm, goosing the audience that it was OK to look up from the bliss and applaud. Le Bon’s performance—including her usual three-person backing band mixing drums, percussion, basses, guitars and keys—was organized around the just-released Crab Day, perhaps her most complete expression yet in album form. So many of its songs, including that scraped-beautiful “What’s Not Mine” and its stabbing beat, the chilly “Wonderful,” the remorseful “Love Is Not Love” and the psychedelic and sinister “We Might Revolve,” find her not so much battling demons as trying to rationalize a whole set of wrongs and disappointments—trying to take the high road regarding certain problems, but maybe struggling to hold back the feral-cat anger, too.

The album sits on that tension, but Cate Le Bon the live show harnesses it, and you feel it in every song. That’s not to say she’s overwhelmingly heavy, either. Most of her songs feel like flexible things built to be stretched a bit. And where the band really connects isn’t in overindulged jamband-style progressions or endless build, build, build—that wouldn’t suit them—but in those snatches of improvisation and moments when it yields to a throbbing rhythm and the glory of a guitar squall, with or without Le Bon’s solemn, dark-tunnel vocals soaring above. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com

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Cate Le Bon Sells Out

January 17th, 2014

Cate Le Bon – Mercury Lounge – January 16, 2014

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

Cate Le Bon’s 2014 is off to a solid start. With her fantastic 2013 release, Mug Museum, finding its way onto several year-end best-albums lists (including Bradford Cox’s list), Le Bon’s supporting the album with a string of U.S. shows, many of which are selling out, including last night’s early show at Mercury Lounge. The venue was practically at capacity for the final songs of opening set by Kevin Morby, bassist of the fantastic band Woods.

Unlike many other singer-songwriter Brits, Le Bon’s accent finds its way into her singing voice, adding a certain degree of endearing charm to her airy alto voice floating above her band’s treble-filled syncopated guitar lines. It has traces of Nico’s singing voice with the Velvet Underground, just in a slightly higher register. For those who have ever listened to her recordings and wonder where the high backing vocals come from, it’s not Le Bon’s voice double tracked but the falsetto voices of her all-male backing band. There’s something pretty astounding about watching three guys sing backup harmonies in falsetto.

And it’s all the more astounding considering they can pull it off live while playing other instruments, like on the jaunty guitar riffs carrying out the end of the wonderfully catchy “Are You with Me Now?” The multitalented Le Bon switched between guitar and organ throughout the set. One song even featured a recorder solo (yes, those recorders), after which she made the audience promise not to publish any photographic proof of it because “that’s just not fair.” Le Bon wraps up the remainder of her January with the second half of her U.S. tour before returning to England for a string of shows. So catch her while you can, just make sure not to Instagram any recorder pics.—Dan Rickershauser