Cate Le Bon channels feeling of loss and mortality in enchanting Vivid set

Cate Le Bon launches her new album 'Pompeii' in Australia while performing at Carriageworks for Vivid Sydney. Photo: Jordan Munns/supplied.

Review: Cate Le Bon, Carriageworks, presented as part of Vivid Sydney – Thursday, 9 June, 2022. Reviewed by arts and entertainment editor Tahli Blackman

★★★1/2

On a night where powerful and talented female artists were celebrated; Cate Le Bon and her band transformed the space of Carriageworks into a musically unique and tranquil experience for all.

Opening for Cate Le Bon were the two exceptionally brilliant acts, Srisha and Olympia. Western Sydney artist Srisha made her debut with her single Euphoria in 2019. Since then, she has been writing original songs and performing at various venues across Sydney.

During her performance for Vivid, she covered a song by Jorja Smith called Blue Light, which really stuck with me. Srisha has such a relaxed R&B vibe. Her effortlessly cool voice in combination with her use of psychedelic synths and layers created a romantic and gentle atmosphere.

Srisha sings origional songs and covers with her band while opening for Cate Le Bon at Carriageworks. Photo: Pete Dovgan/supplied.

Olympia, on the other hand, had an electric rock-star quality that really shook up the stage. Olivia Jayne Bartley who performs as Olympia played this show solo, shredding the electric guitar, and using her powerful voice to create a mighty musical force at Carriageworks. Her performance of Nervous Riders struck me as one of the best, showcasing her soft tones with her ability to get louder and create vocal drama.

Olympia’s live performance was a show stealer and I haven’t stopped listening to her music since. She interacted so well with the audience, bantering on multiple occasions with one of her biggest fans, an elderly man who wanted to upload the whole concert to YouTube. This performance truly pumped up the audience for the main act.

Olympia stole the show with her amazing live vocals and guitar playing as the second opening act for Cate Le Bon. Photo: Pete Dovgan/supplied.

Cate Le Bon is a Welsh musician and producer who sings in both English and Welsh. Her music, if it really had to be placed into a genre, is like a soft-rock indie experience of soulful suspense. If you’re fascinated by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Nico, you will love Cate Le Bon.

This show started without any warning. Cate Le Bon strapped on her neon pentagonal orange guitar and began the set. As always, Cate and the band seemed so mysterious and unbothered as they walked out onto the stage. Her new Australian-inspired mullet hairstyle also made Cate’s vibe that much better. She definitely had me considering a visit to the hair salon.

She began the set with her favourite opening song Dirt on the Bed from her sixth solo album Pompeii. This song was perfect for sparking the curiosity of the audience. The song captures a sense of isolation in very few lyrics, also tributing feelings of loss, memory, and mortality.

Cate Le Bon band member and drummer Dylan Hadley, who also plays in the band Kamikaze Palm Tree performed with so much passion. Photo: Jordan Munns/supplied.

Cate was joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist Euan Hinshelwood, drummer Dylan Hadley, Alexander Morrison on keyboard and guitar and Toko Yasuda on bass.

Dylan Hadley was a dark horse on the drums. She looked very focused with her headphones on listening to the music as she added those extra beats that kept the rhythm of the whole performance. It was also amazing to see Euan Hinshelwood switch so effortlessly from playing the saxophone, to the keyboard and then the guitar.

Their performance of the song Moderation encouraged more movement within the audience, which was a lot of fun. This show was a successful Australian launch and celebration of Cate Le Bon’s album Pompeii which was just released this year. It was great to see how these songs translated to the stage and how the audience reacted to every live note, beat and melody.

The more lyrically and emotionally complex songs of The Light and Miami from her 2019 album Reward were also performed for Vivid. The band was very organised and tight in how they executed each song, especially the slow songs where hiccups are easily noticeable. The way they play live is exactly what you hear when you stream their music at home, only with the more alluring sounds of live instruments.

Cate Le Bon and her band played an amazing set for Vivid Sydney with truly impressive stage lighting. Photo: Jordan Munns/supplied.

I was once again impressed with the use of lighting on stage for this round of Vivid concerts. The lighting for the Cate Le Bon show was beautiful, each hue and colour was accompanied by a misty feeling that had been perfectly picked for each song and mood. Vivid Sydney really transformed the location of Carriageworks into an expressive space for creatives to blossom.

At times for me, the songs became a little repetitive and tedious. There was a lot of head bopping and not enough movement for me. I also felt like Cate could have interacted with the audience a little bit more. I know we were there for the music, but I enjoy seeing glimpses of the artist’s personality throughout a set, which I didn’t get from this show.

Either way, Cate Le Bon and the band truly entranced the audience throughout their set. Their use of the electronic sound synthesizer, paired with keyboard notes and the sweet melodies of the saxophone was quite endearing and so fitting for Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Sydney will run until Saturday, 18 June at multiple locations between Circular Quay and Central Station. For tickets to feature programs and further information, visit https://www.vividsydney.com.

Tahli Blackman is the arts and entertainment editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

For further news, features, reviews, interviews, opinion, podcasts and more, visit https://sydneysentinel.com.au. You can also like/follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.