CATE LE BON: Green Man Festival & Brudenell Social Club
I first encountered Cate Le Bon’s music when I was stood in a queue in Primark. I was almost definitely buying fishnet tights or underwear or potentially both, and what I heard was the eponymous song from her 2016 album ‘Crab Day’. It was on my Spotify recommended playlist that week and I remember admiring the oddness of the lyrics, and the strange elegance of the album cover, her silky quilted robe. After this encounter with her music, her name kept popping up all over the place.
Last year I wanted to find a way to see her at Green Man Festival without having to pay for a ticket- and so I decided to travel to Wales alone and work on one of the bars. This experience was a bit of a mixed bag- I met some lovely people and managed to have a good time ¼ of the nights I was there, but also spent a lot of my time there being ill, worrying about being ill, being self-conscious about being there alone and pissing in cups when I couldn’t be bothered to leave my tent. In spite of this strange behaviour and unfortunate circumstance, seeing Cate live was an absolute highlight of my time there. She wore a brilliant pair of wide leg khaki trousers, dark punky eye makeup and a deep bronze colour on her cheeks which highlighted her strange (in a lovely way) and sculpted face. Here are some drawings I did of her during the show which I feel quite good about;
It surprises me that I have only heard her music relatively recently when she’s been putting things out for over 10 years, but I suppose that just speaks to my opinion that she has really come into her own and paved her own way with her last two albums and smaller releases. It's great to see a woman as the focus of the show surrounded by male band mates (who’s also, in my opinion, a lot better than them at song writing)- I appreciate her whole aura. On stage and in interviews she is witty and deadpan, everything she says seems sharp and well-paced, made all the more engaging by her charming Welsh accent. Her music is odd, dark, and full of eerie references to death, and yet it has a clear sense of humour to it. Is her name a nod to Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran? Is the lyric ’it’s not unusual’ in ’Are You With Me Now?’ a Tom Jones references? She seems so assured in her concoctions of odd references, it’s refreshing and inspiring.
Me and my mate Danny went to see Cate Le Bon for a second time at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds this January, a piano and vocals show where her only accompaniment was Sweet Baboo on clarinet/several other woodwind instruments. THIS is something that I can get behind – the revival of the clarinet! I played it all throughout secondary school and it never really struck me as an instrument which could sound good on anything current or trendy. Hearing the instrument sounding so lovely and fitting in in such an unusual way made me hopeful that I could pick one up again in the future and play something cool with it! Once again she looked brilliant in a huge black cape like coat; her back was to our side of the audience but you could see the beautiful internal organs of the piano and there was something very bare about the show which worked well, especially on ‘I Think I Knew’. She played a Paul McCartney cover which made me realise that ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls’ is actually an established saying which was discovered years prior to TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’... who bladdy knew eh, good bit of pop trivia. I did a couple more drawings at this gig, which in my opinion aren’t quite as good since we were so far from the stage this time, but I’m including them anyway.
In conclusion, I think Cate Le Bon is super talented and cool, has really great hair which looks super silky, and I will continue to play her music to everyone I know. Also me and my mate Danny think she is mint (as he told her at the end of the show) and fancy her a little bit.