Leeds Music Scene

Gig review of Sweet Baboo + Val Cale

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Reviewed on 17th September 2015.


Sweet Baboo

Live at Brudenell Social Club on Wednesday, 16th September 2015

I tried to get this written when I got home last night but tiredness got the better of me. If I didn't have a day job to manage on top of all the gigs I want to see, life would be so much simpler.

I've been hammering the Sweet Baboo (Stephen Black) back catalogue for a while now and everything I've acquired, with the exception of an old JT Mouse album ('Clusters', 2003...buy it!), has come direct from the man himself. I like that connection. Not such a novelty to some but my relationship with musicians began with them being people I could only read about, see in videos, or pay money to look at from a distance.(Sorry, that reads weirder than it sounded in my head). In my head at least, they lived in a parallel world of glamour whilst I sat at home listening to albums on repeat whilst trying to memorise enough of St. Mark's Gospel to warrant an exam grade in a subject that's since led to one right answer on Fifteen-To-One. (Once). So seeing Mr Baboo manning his own merch stall before and after last nights' gig, nattering to eager fans, myself included, and generally being a normal bloke probably explains his appeal. Well, there's that and obviously there's his music, which is nothing short of marvellous.

This being the Boombox Ballads tour, I expected to hear plenty of new offerings and like most I was hoping for a smattering of older stuff too. To be honest though I was just happy to be at my first SB gig and it didn't matter what we got. Judging by the politely heckled requests, people have their favourites too but when the band either don't know the older songs or the writer himself can't remember how to play them, somebody's always going to be left disappointed.

Only a couple of songs from the new album didn't get an airing but the eight that did were spot on. (Even if the vocal effects pedal due to appear in 'Got to hang on to you' suffered from first-night-on-tour nerves). Alongside the new stuff we got 'If I died', 'Motorhome', 'Let's go swimming wild' and 'Twelve carrots of love'. Add to that a beautiful reverse encore of 'I'm a dancer' (solo, acoustic, Steve) and 'Bounce' (full band, half of them learning the tune as they went) and you're left with a 14 song set that had me rooted to the spot.

One highlight for me was 'You got me keeping time'. On the album this one took me a while to get but eventually I did. Hearing it played live though it became something else and those builds in between the more patently melodic sections were breath taking. My standout moment though was 'Motorhome'. Not a new track, I know, but this being one of the first things I ever heard by SB and one that's always on my mp3 player, I was utterly lost in its beauty. Because it is a beautiful song as they all are. It's something SB does: simple words and beautiful notes.

I'll wrap things up then. I arrived smiling and excited and I left sated and grinning. You can't really want more from a gig can you? The support were pretty bloody awesome too. Fledgling locals Val Cale. Theirs was a heavy blues set of super-tight stuff that channelled and then surpassed Alberta Cross and tipped its hat at Cream. Great stage presence, polished performance and some cracking tunes. I definitely need to know more about these guys and I'll be going out of my way to see them again very soon.

Time for several cuppas to keep me going at work this afternoon then it's back to the Brudenell tonight for H Hawkline & Gwenno. Then it'll be time to araf.

Full set list

If I died
Got to hang on to you
You are gentle
Let's go swimming wild
You got me keeping time
Walking in the rain
Tonight, you are a tiger
I just want to be good
Twelve carrots of love
Over and out
I'm a dancer



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2 bands associated with this article.

Sweet Baboo

Val Cale

Heavy psych-blues from Leeds

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