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Live Review: Cate Le Bon, Ella Thompson

10 October 2016 | 2:19 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

"After Le Bon informs us this is their "first rodeo in Melbourne", a punter appropriately hollers "YEE-har!""

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Ella Thompson has all the talent necessary to be absolutely fabulous, but she needs to learn how to project out into the audience to draw us in fully. She's such a brilliant singer, but it's hard to connect with an artist performing with her eyes shut for 80% of the time. We're probably more engaged with the questionable full-length white culottes with sporadic swirly black pattern that Thompson wears. Maybe she's getting used to having a buddy up on stage with her while in duo guise with GL, but Thompson certainly needs to start owning it and believing in herself to be fully noticed.

When Cate Le Bon and co arrive on stage it's clear they got the memo to wear black outfits (although her drummer rebels a tad by wearing blue denim jeans). Le Bon's lilting Love Is Not Love chorus complements the plaintive guitar tone. An extended live version of Wonderful features unhinged guitar squalls. To play in Le Bon's backing band demands full concentration and multi-instrumental skills as these musicians swap instruments regularly throughout the set (the drummer even simultaneously playing bass and bass drum from his position perched on the drum stool at one point).

Le Bon's quirky lyrics entertain, particularly during I'm A Dirty Attic ("This night drives me wild"). After Le Bon informs us this is their "first rodeo in Melbourne", a punter appropriately hollers "YEE-har!" Le Bon demonstrates an impressively meandering fretting technique. These songs have complex structures that demand meticulous counting and the bassist has an intense expression, particularly during I Can't Help You. We Might Revolve calls to mind the metronomic precision of Battles. Le Bon turns her back on the audience and absolutely unleashes on guitar to close out What's Not Mine and her bandmates play along, exhilarated. Our focus is drawn toward Le Bon's wishlist-worthy silver lurex Bobby socks and black Mary Janes. We applaud each band member as they exit the stage, one by one, leaving just Le Bon and one of her keyboardist/guitarists to play the song out.

As a fan reaches for the setlist, we notice there's one last song written on there punctuated by a question mark ("Time?"). We cheer loudly for an encore and it's granted, the band appearing delighted by the reception they receive during their maiden voyage to Melbourne.

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