Cate Le Bon

Bullingdon, Oxford

Cate Le Bon has managed in her eight years of writing, performing and recording, to create a transparent but palpable bubble around herself and her music.

It would appear you either know her intimately and obsessively, or not at all. Her releases have, without exception, challenged and provoked her loyal fan base as she evolves as a musician. It can be hard to maintain momentum when shot to stardom, becoming an overnight sensation, as Le Bon was. But her records prove to be continual reminder that she has the tenacity and the desire to keep making solid, coherent releases.

Her latest, Crab Day, is no different, receiving a warm critical reception and finishing the year as Q magazine’s 16th best album of the year, an admirable feat for a self proclaimed awkward, shy girl from Carmarthenshire.

Her performance at a packed Bullingdon conveys exactly what you would expect from a consummate and now stylistically-settled artist. Her ability to build a relationship with her audience is apparent from the offset and it’s so beautifully refreshing to witness the meditative state she orchestrates with her stripped back and gentle approach to live music.

There’s always enough going on to keep the audience occupied aurally but never so much that it loses the distinct and meticulous melodies in the mix.

The tightness and structural precision of her band allows Le Bon to drift off into Cate world, her eyes fixated on the ceiling and her voice flittering about in a dreamlike state, making comparisons to her namesake, Kate Bush, impossible to ignore.

Between tracks we are treated to her humble and deferential nature. She repeatedly thanks her audience for their presence and seems intent on repaying their loyalty with an all encompassing set of non-genre specific delights.

When young performers come through Oxford displaying a slight naivety towards their live performance, one wishes they could watch a Le Bon set and learn from an assured but enigmatic performer.

Less can indeed be more as long as the performance contains the conviction and personality Le Bon squeezes into her set.

A pleasingly subtle show.