Y Niwl/Cate Le Bon - Central Station, Wrexham - Wednesday 3rd March
Friday 12 March 2010, 17:37
They know how to string them together into enthralling crests of sound
within each individual track, but they also know how - on a bigger
scale - to send those waves crashing into the audience so that each
gets better and more impressive.
It's a set like a meteor thundering down to earth. Initially rather
beautiful and worthy of a pointed finger and a hushed "aaaah!" - soon
accelerating into a cataclysmic end of all things, a fury of flashing
sounds. Amazing, in other words. Truly the best-constructed set I have
witnessed in a long time.
The lack of fuss or drama on stage; the low-key, modest
blokes-just-playing-music aspect of it, focuses the mind on the music.
We don't always need charisma writ large or faux attitude. When Alun's
knees buckle because of the sheer sonic momentum surging out of him,
it's truly affecting.
Un and Tri better their EP equivalents. Wyth, when that sees the light
of day on their imminent debut album, will blow minds with its aceness.
My most listened to albums of the last 12 months are Cate Le Bon's
debut Me Oh My and Future Of The Left's Travels With Myself And
Another. One lends itself more obviously to a live environment than
the other. Cate's album revolves in an off kilter way around a 4am,
woozily hallucinogenic ambience. It's about the intimacy of her
beguiling and unique voice visiting in a half-remembered dream. Quite
how the subtlety-smashing hammer and anvil of a PA system would convey
such a mood I wasn't sure.
Cate's band (Sion Glyn, Steve 'Sweet Baboo' Black, Andy Fung and,
occasionally, Huw Evans) are some of the finest musical hands-for-hire
Wales has to offer, and each of them has been involved in bands
(Topper, Sweet Baboo and Derrero) that brought a light, melodic touch
to lysergic mysteries. Cate's songs couldn't have a better band behind
But the focus is very much on Cate and her topsy turvy, Through The
Looking Glass imagination. She takes to the stage like some
Burton-esque Gretel who survived into womanhood but got scarred by her
experiences in those scary, nightmare-filled woods.
That's an impression perhaps coloured by living in such close proximity
to the album. The single red light shining up into her face from below,
throwing her features into macabre Hammer House-relief, rather
emphasises such preconceptions of strangeness.
But Cate rather shatters those impressions very quickly. She's far more
playful and laidback than the gloaming claustrophobia of the album
would suggest. It's a little disconcerting, at first, when she smiles,
but it's a welcome surprise.
Similarly, the songs have more light in them in this setting. We're
treated to exemplary versions of Me Oh My, Shoeing The Bones and Sad
Sad Feet. Hollow Trees House Hounds was the only slight disappointment.
That felt a touch heavy-handed, but - you know - it's one of my
favourite recordings of recent years and I'm loyally dogmatic in my
Cate sings beautifully. The audience are entranced, you can see it in
their faces... transported far away from these rather perfunctory
At the audience's bequest - and Cate's, too - they do an excellent
skitter through Burn Until The End as an encore. There are smiles on
stage and in the audience. A night of many great surprises. Enchanting.
Share this page
- The BBC Introducing house party!
Friday 12 March 2010, 16:06
- John Sicolo 1944-2010
Monday 15 March 2010, 08:13