Lights dance off the audience’s head, an ear piercing twang sounds from the guitar and Cate Le Bon stands to the side of Tim Presley, the White Denim bassist, with an unnerving presence. If this band didn’t consist of musicians of such pedigree, who knows if Soup Kitchen’s basement would be so full. But thankfully it is and we’re here with clear minds, all of us unsure of what lies ahead.

The first song is a mixed bag – it has a fantastic melody but the rest of it is nothing more than a mess, consisting of indecipherable vocals and deliberate feedback. The musicianship ramps up on the second song, but there’s no bones to it and it lacks substance. I worry its going to be a night of impressive musicianship, rather than good songs.

However, we are soon saved with the albums opening song – ‘Laying down the rock’. It has a great riff and is instantly recognisable. It shines a light of clarity on what up to now has been a rather confusing evening. Up to now Cate has been on the outside looking in, but on the next song ‘Hermits on Holiday‘ she takes the lead. The guitar is thrown down and she makes her way to the front of the stage and as the song begins, the uplift in quality is obvious.

‘Cheerio’ sees Cate continue at the helm and it’s a song of alluring strangeness, one of the highlights of an album that sometimes leaves listeners bemused. Evidence of that bemusement is striking on the next song ‘Tim, do I like that dog?’ It sees Cate repeat that line to some frankly awful instrumentation. The feedback is deafening and if the audience doesn’t feel lost, than they clearly understand something I don’t.

Tonight has been puzzling in truth. The musicianship overall has been very good and there have been some high points, mostly when Cate has taken the mantle. But there have also been many low points and at times it has bordered on the ludicrous.

Before they begin their final song, ‘She walks so fast,’ a funky number that would light up any stage, Cate presents it by saying “this song goes nothing like this.” And in that one sentence she sums up the whole evening. We turned up not knowing what lies ahead and to be honest neither did they. It was under rehearsed and I only hope that they improve as their tour goes on. 

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.