Cate Le Bon

Cate Le Bon


Known as being one of Cate Le Bon’s favourite venues, tonight she returns for the second night in a row to a packed Deaf Institute. “I wish I could play Manchester every night”. Her latest album ‘Crab Day’ somehow managed to upstage her superb 2013 album, ‘Mug Museum’, and so she has plenty of ammo to keep all entertained for an hour or two. This is the 4th time I’ve seen her live, and she never disappoints.

Four lasers from the back of the high stage illuminate the smoke that’s being pumped into the room, while eerie string music plays over the speakers. She enters the room dressed all in black, with a matt black Fender and a gold headband, accompanied by her Christmassy “three lovely kings”, who are all wearing tall gold cardboard crowns – JT, Daniel Wood and Sweet Baboo bear gifts of drums, keys/guitar and bass.

The pounding beat of the latest album’s title track gets things going – with last nights gig experience to draw from, the sound is perfect from the start. Her songs carry a kind of wonky perspective on simple emotions and experiences that most from the same part of the world can relate to, all sung in a strong and endearing Welsh accent. She appears to be growing in confidence in exposing her kookiness, developing as an artist and remaining grounded enough as not to alienate her audience.

Danceable drumbeats and funky baselines support Cate’s post-punk flat guitar chords and deliberate bum-notes which tie-in beautifully with lyrics such as “I want to be a ten pin ball” and “love is not love, when it’s a coat hanger…”, confidently expressing the confusion that occupies her thoughtful mind.

There are many highlights, all loudly applauded by the attentive and grateful audience. ‘I Can’t Help You’, ‘Sisters’ and pre-encore finale ‘What’s Not Mine’ stand even taller than the rest – the latter performed along with help from support act and Drinks partner, Tim Presley. After an emotional solo of ‘He’s Leaving’, a beautiful song that doesn’t appear on either album but deserves more exposure, they finish with a cover of ‘Last Christmas’ (yes, by Wham!), suitably re-fashioned in her own unequivocal style, blended with ‘Jingle Bells’.

Cate Le Bon continues to fascinate, boldly combining an array of rock genre’s to best express her sense of uncertainty, nostalgia and wonderment. She has surrounded herself with like-minded and talented individuals who add great depth to her sound. It all, somehow, comes together to create a cohesive and brilliantly finished article that basks in a glow of imperfection.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.