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Review: Led Bib

Led Bib – “Bring Your Own” Album Launch
(Purcell Room, February 28th 2011, review by Roderick McKinley)

They began as they meant to go on, slam-full of sounds – Mercury Prize nominees, Led Bib were certainly not about to let down their many fans. A fat over-driven bass rocked out to the strong steady groove hit out on the kit, as restless fingers clambered about the rhodes, while jabbing melodic figures were punched out by the saxophones.

Led Bib marked themselves apart by their distinctive assimilation of orderly rock-style beats and grooves, into a jazz-world of many wider, ranging freedoms. This approach creates some interesting juxtapositions. In many songs, the rhythm section will vamp away to familiar-sounding, rock-solid grooves while the saxes freely solo away with abstract figures. The players took subtly contrasting approaches to this. Chris Williams (tenor) appeared to use the rhythm section as a foundation he aimed to depart from with phrasing and angular figures which were almost orthogonal to the rhythm section’s content. Peter Grogan’s (alto) solos, by contrast were more responsive and accepting of the beat and tonalities which were being sounded by the rhythm section – an inclination which I personally found more compelling.

Keyboardist Toby McLaren, spent most of the gig either creating agitated and estranged ambiences by passing his rhodes playing through an effects box, or vamping funky chords with the drum and bass. On the two songs where he did solo, his playing demonstrated an impressive balance between restrained, structured statements, and wilder, unbridled throws of striking virtuosity. Personally, I wished he had been able to contribute more in that capacity.

At the centre of the band was founder Mark Holub’s drumming, holding everything together as a good drummer should, keeping a steady beat delivery despite the fierce flurry of his stick movements. Still, at times some strokes weren’t quite as crisp as they might have been.

Liran Donin (electric & double-bass) played flawlessly. Together with Mark he provided the core sound for Led Bib’s rockier elements. Apparently, it was the first gig they had pulled out an acoustic bass at a gig. Though only present in a couple of numbers, it added greater variety to the sound and ambience of their music.

Apart from subtle touches like this, Led Bib’s new album is a continuation, rather than a departure, from their previous offerings, but that’s no loss given the variety in their material. Fans can be assured that they will be getting more of what they came for.

The “Bring Your Own” launch tour continues. For dates check Led Bib’s website.

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2 replies »

  1. I was there too. This band improves every time I see them and their music is fascinating because it's so unpredictable. If you want melody, you won't like them. If you like Ornette Coleman or Frank Zappa's Hot Rats, you will – probably… You can sample them on YouTube, but it won't capture the sheer energy and drive of their live performance – maybe that's where the Led of their title comes from, as for Bib, I've no idea.

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