Easily Led: Tripping on Led Bib at the Southbank

NO ONE would want to inhabit Led Bib’s world – a dark, uncompromising terrain; an audio acid trip of relentless rhythms, harsh harmonies and seismic sonics.

Named after a protective garment worn in painful dentists’ operations, the Brit jazz-noise pioneers conjure propulsive, frenetic riffing and moody drones; at their best sounding like early seventies Miles Davis – the ragged yet haunting Live Evil particularly – at their worst like Nirvana with a sax solo on top.

The bombast of drummer Mark Holub and electric bassist Liran Donin tack up the picture frame, with Toby McLaren’s distorted Fender Rhodes creeping like a spider over the canvas. The faux pas at the dinner table is a pair of duelling soprano saxophones up front, throwing Jackson Pollock blotches haphazardly onto the scene.

“Try not to understand it,” one fan instructed her uninitiated friend, “there’s nothing to understand.”

Raised on a diet of Radiohead and Led Zeppelin the young band – leader Holub was 30 last week – have been bracketed alongside groups like Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear in the “punk jazz” movement. But Led Bib were always far more technically thrilling than their peers, and using this gig to launch their fifth album, Bring Your Own, their music has found a new focus, the grooves more foot tapping than ever.

This was still challenging stuff alright, but the windswept Southbank audience were up to the struggle, raining rapt applause on these crooked masterpieces. A two hour ride on this psychedelic intoxicant was the perfect dose, the dazed trippers left wanting more, but skipping the comedown.


Read my earlier interview with Led Bib here.

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