The last day of this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival witnessed one of the more atypical concerts of the season. Drummer Mark Holub’s Mercury-prize nominees Led Bib played a live score of their new album It’s Morning (RareNoise, 2019) accompanied by a film specially produced for the album by US-based filmmaker Dylan Pecora. This performance, on the stage of the Rio Cinema, Dalston, was the culmination of the band’s short UK tour to launch the new album, taking in venues at Lancaster, Canterbury and Nottingham.
Preceded by a 10-minute film, Picture The Light, by Rebecca Salter RA and Max de Wardener, comprising abstract shapes continuously morphing to a sub-Floydian soundtrack, the main event was modestly unleashed. Unusually, the band was unheralded by a compère, as is customary with many LJF gigs. Led Bib was populated by the entire sextet that recorded It’s Morning, minus co-lyricist Jack Hues whose disembodied recorded voice was occasionally added to the mix.
The juxtaposition of the filmic backdrop with the often dramatic live music worked very well. The erratic narrative of the film might have owed much to Luis Buñuel or David Lynch with its surrealistic, other-worldly imagery. It opened with emergent time-lapse shots of purple plants that sporadically reappeared throughout the movie and there were other leitmotifs such as a fluorescent orange-jacket-clad John Lennon-esqe figure complete with beard, round glasses and hair longer than George Harrison’s at its longest. Then there were quasi-religious fanatics seated in a hall, dressed in coats of varying hues. There were also strange little grey cubes, masks, beckoning fingers from behind a curtain and the collective joyousness of the congregation, replete with hands hiding their faces alternating with open-mouthed expressions of rapture.
But whilst the colourful imagery was undoubtedly engaging, it was ultimately the uninterrupted execution of the Bib’s entire album, devoid of any distracting applause, that delivered the goods. It’s difficult to make comparisons between Led Bib and any other band extant or from the past, but the addition here of Sharron Fortnam and her fragile, affecting vocals (occasionally augmented by backing vocals from bassist Liran Donin and keyboardist Elliott Galvin) is key to the success of It’s Morning. Galvin too, an irrepressibly bouncy figure, bobbing around his keyboards, added an extra electronic piquancy to the group’s sound. Ultimately this was an extraordinary performance by an extraordinary group.
Those wishing to read an in-depth review of It’s Morning can view it here. The review includes a link to a YouTube clip of the album’s trailer featuring Pecora’s film.
Led Bib, Rio Cinema, Dalston, London, 24 November 2019 as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.