Music review: Cate Le Bon, SWG3, Glasgow

Effortlessly blending a diverse range of styles and influences into a unified whole, Cate Le Bon’s latest live show is a masterclass, writes Fiona Shepherd

Cate Le Bon PIC: H Hawkline
Cate Le Bon PIC: H Hawkline

Cate Le Bon, SWG3, Glasgow ****

Welsh psych pop priestess Cate Le Bon is justly proud of her new album. Pompeii is one of lockdown’s most intoxicating creations on which she played most of the instruments herself, blending a strangely soothing yet unsettling cocktail of musical ingredients.

Every track has found a place in her current live show, making for a consistently unhurried pace over a 90-minute set. This might have hobbled a less sure-footed artist. Le Bon’s fans, however, are along for the slow ride, only this time she has brought with her an excellent four-piece band, all the better to deliver the supple basslines, shape-shifting saxophone parts and the languid, sighing backing vocals of the spellbinding title track, with psychedelic picking from Le Bon, who appears to have developed a guitar sound as distinct as St Vincent’s trebly fuzztones.

Le Bon belongs in an idiosyncratic lineage of pop alchemists with a strong and eccentric visual sense like a more chilled-out Roisin Murphy and a way at coming at melodies from unexpected angles with the stealth of Kate Bush.

The light 80s funk pop sound of Running Away was forged with the lithe rumble of bass, legato notes on saxophone, rich resonant guitar and Le Bon’s cool, collected alto vocal, which also infused the sumptuous siren call of Cry Me Old Trouble.

There was a change of rhythm, if not pace, to incorporate fluid basslines, skittering drums, angular phrasing and a hint of dub reggae fusion which recalled the lo-fi experimental punk of The Slits. There were echoes of David Bowie’s post-punk works in the sounds produced on saxophone, guitar and, at one point, saxophone that sounded like a guitar. But it was fellow Welsh wonder John Cale she reached for in the encore, bathing in a cover of Big White Cloud, his healing paean to nature.


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