Seattle – There’s Holiday music (which I do unabashedly adore) and then there’s music that just fits for the holiday season. It might not be themed, but its sound is at home with “the season.” Cate le Bon is one such artist whose music is perfectly playable during this time of year. When the Welsh singer/songwriter played Seattle’ Barboza on December 6, then, it was an immediately comfortable (cozy, even) and intimate affair. Still touring in support of her latest album, Mug Museum, le Bon promoted the release with a heavy set of new tracks that ranged from catchy to slightly haunting. It made a diverse and engaging set.
While much of her set came from that album, she did reward the crowd with some old fan favorites including “Fold the Cloth” which might start off as slow and steady song with a “These Days” air to it but quickly digresses into a heavier-packed track. Watching this song’s transition live was easily one of the highlights of the night – and you could sense agreement from the crowd’s excited reaction.
Le Bon’s music has been steadily compared to Nico and the obvious 1960s pop vibe is undeniable in her recorded repertoire. Her live presence only amplifies the similarities. She was at once coolly aloof and delicately charming. She was friendly and chatty with the crowd but maintained a certain lack of warmth; maybe it’s the British thing but her presence perfectly complemented the music and even gave her an edge of stardom. Her musical accompaniment was bold and provided the strong garage feel to some of her tracks that was well translated from recording to the live setting.
Canadian folk singer Basia Bulat opened for Cate le Bon. Bulat plays simply beautiful music and plays it beautifully. She performs with an autoharp which is cool on its own right but she is also accompanied by strings and other non-traditional instruments. With such a diverse range of sounds on stage, it might have been easy for her vocals to be overshadowed or even overlooked. She sings with such graceful power, however, that it would be impossible not to pay close attention. While the similarities between Bulat’s and Le Bon’s music might be few and far between, they created a bill that was cohesive and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.
Photo Credits: Above – Carl Einberger, Slider – Zoran-Veselinovic