Review of Led Bib at Rough Trade East by new LondonJazz writer Adam Tait
(August 12th 2009)
I’d got soaked and more than a little disgruntled on my way to hear Led Bib at Rough Trade East, because a monsoon had caught me out on Bishopsgate, and a second-hand flat cap and a free paper don’t exactly provide shelter. This wasn’t a band I knew, so I had no idea what to expect. And by the time I reached the end of my swim through the streets of London, I had my doubts as to whether it was all going to be worth it.
But what greeted me from Led Bib onstage was a joyous explosion of noise that brought me nothing but a contented grin.
From the outset it was obvious that we were all watching some very talented musicians, but technical acumen was not what was making me smile. What was most satisfying about Led Bib was that they clearly truly enjoy the music they make, something that seems to me to be all too rare at the moment. And as the ominous opening chords suddenly broke in to pulsating upbeat rhythm, keyboardist Toby Maclaren didn’t seem to be able to keep himself still, neither could drummer Mark Holub, as he whirled his way around his kit with impressive aptitude.
I think the 30 minute performance could appropriately be described as mesmerisingly, discordantly rhythmic. Led Bib’s ability to move from punchy outbursts to subdued rattling rhythms, on songs like Yes Again and Squirrel Carnage, leaving you pleasantly bewildered just how that transition happened so seamlessly, made it nigh-on impossible to be distracted by anything. It was truly refreshing to watch a band with no idea where the song might be going next, building dramatically to what seemed the point of no return before dropping back to pattering drums and tinkling keyboard.
A listen afterwards to the band’s Mercury Prize nominated album Sensible Shoes provides a sample of the band’s appeal. The songs still demonstrate Led Bib’s exciting builds and breaks, and songs like Yes Again still contain the sudden burst of energy that the make the band’s sound so pleasing. But what is not present on the album, and what I felt at the gig, is the ability which this band has to hold the listener’s attention so absolutely.
And that’s the best feeling you can find in live music, if you ask me. To find yourself watching a band you knew nothing of previously, had no expectations of when you arrived, but cannot turn you smiling face away from until they say ‘right, that’s it, go home now’, and that is what Led Bib do very successfully.
Whilst it may not have been my favourite occurrence, a room full of wildly dancing people, it was just as satisfying to see a room full of people unable to turn their attention away from the five men on stage; and the five men on stage not seeming at all bothered about the audience because they were too busy having a good time.
(Photo : Magpiemind. Led Bib set list. Ink on toilet paper, 2009. )