As the lights dim, an electronic burble that could be straight from a 70’s sci-fi film fills the Brudenell. This, in turn, cedes to bilingual instructions not to touch or take photographs inside the Mug Museum, the title of Cate le Bon’s current album.
It’s a slightly bemusing start to a set that has an almost filmic arc in its progression from ‘No God’, which tightens the screws on Euros Childs’ Velvet Underground influence, to set closer ‘Fold The Cloth’, a psych-rock epic that features four-part harmonies and an extended instrumental wig out.
In between these two points, the singer-songwriter demonstrates how far she’s come since releasing her Welsh language debut in 2008, collaborating with Neon Neon, and appearing on the Manic Street Preachers’ latest album.
Her bone-dry stage presence and the way in which she huskily rolls dark lyrics around her mouth on the sleepy eyed 60’s folk of ‘Are You With Me Now?’ and ‘I Can’t Help You’ do little to dampen the Nico comparisons.
When H. Hawkline swaps guitar for synth and adds simple but repetitive riffs to ‘Cyrk’ and ‘Cuckoo Through The Walls’, however, there simmers a menacing energy that somehow humanises le Bon’s icy cool.
This process reaches a climax on ‘Wild’, which begins as straightforward pop before taking an unexpected tangent. As Sweet Baboo’s bass line canters around a demented synth part, le Bon repeatedly shrieks the title, seemingly lost in delight at that the sound she’s making in front of a rapt audience.
Gig date: February 16