By Bill Pearis
Siren singer. Champion skronky guitar solo-er. Drone princess. Dressed in an iridescent dark green smock-frock, Welsh singer Cate Le Bon looked a like Crannogmen royalty at Mercury Lounge last night (2/9), where she held court over a rapt, smiling audience. Those who didn't come as fans left as converts. There is nobody quite like her and, for me, this is the current show to beat for 2012.
Previous visits from Le Bon have been mostly solo, which fit the general faery folk vibe of her first album. Le Bon's new LP, Cyrk, is definitely a "band" album, however, and the group she brought with her were more than capable of recreating its pastoral psych-rock. The night opened with the icy and discordant "Julia" but things warmed up from there as band members switched places as Cate went from guitar to keyboard and back again for singles "Puts Me to Work and "Fold the Cloth." Only her New Zealander drummer, who was flash-free but rock-steady, stayed in one place the whole night.
He also got the evening's biggest laugh. Cate invited the audience to go on tour with her, at least to tonight's show at Maxwell's where we'd get "the same band, and the same songs." Then the drummer piped in, "...but New Jersey" and immediately hit a rimshot to much groans and laughter. The evening finished as Cyrk does with the two-part "Ploughing Out," which starts off gentle and haunting but grows into a chugging, noisy rocker. In a tribute to Wales legends Super Furry Animals (Gruff Rhys was one of her early champions), the songs comes to a clamorous end with Cate and the bassist crossing their instruments like swords.
Cate plays Maxwell's tonight (2/10) before continuing on tour, again with openers Pigeons, and I highly recommend you go to this show (and then stick around for the comedy). If you haven't heard Cyrk yet, it's one of 2012's best so far. You can download "Puts Me to Work" at the top of this post, watch the video for "Fold the Cloth" below, or stream the whole album on Spotify. But really, go see her live. Click through for a couple more grainy cameraphone pictures from Mercury Lounge, and all 2012 tour dates...
Cate Le Bon - "Fold the Cloth"
Cate Le Bon - 2012 Tour Dates
8th - TT THE BEAR'S PLACE, CAMBRIDGE, MA
9th - MERCURY LOUNGE, NEW YORK, NY
10th - MAXWELL'S, HOBOKEN ,NJ
11th - KUNGFU NECKTIE , PHILADELPHIA, PA
12th - DC9 , WASHINGTON, DC
14th - SCHUBAS, CHICAGO, IL
16th - THE FREQUENCY, MADISON, WI
17th - 7th STREET ENTRY, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
22nd - THE CROCODILE, SEATTLE, WA
23rd - MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS, PORTLAND, OR
25th - NOISE POP FESTIVAL , SAN FRANCISCO, CA
26th - McCABE'S GUITAR SHOP, SANTA MONICA, CA
27th - BARDOT HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CA
Cate stuck to Cyrk for her 40-minute set, politely turning down requests from the audience for Me Oh My material.