20 Years of Bella Union
Monday 30th October 2017
@ Leaf, Bold St, Liverpool
As any self-respecting Cocteau Twins fans will know, the Bella Union label was setup in 1997 by The Cocteau Twins, initially to release their own material. The band split soon afterwards so Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie took control of the label in order to release other bands. Once Robin Guthrie moved to France in 2000 to concentrate on his own music projects, Simon Raymonde took soul charge of the label.
For an independent label it’s punched well above it’s weight, boasting artists such as Flaming Lips, John Grant, Lanterns on the Lake, Fleet Foxes, Emmy the Great, Howling Bells and Mercury Rev to scratch but the surface.
20 years on and the label is in fine shape, still at the cutting edge of new music, and we are celebrating it’s birthday in style at the wonderful Leaf on Bold St.
Not to be confused with the album by Lemon Jelly, Lost Horizons is Simon Raymonde’s new band with Richie Thomas from one time fellow 4AD band Dif Juz. Their debut album “Ojalá” features a dizzying array of guest vocalists, including GhostPoet, who sadly couldn’t be here tonight.
Nevertheless, tonight’s performance was nothing short of breath-taking. It was their first public performance, and the first time Simon Raymonde has performed live in 20 years, yet from the opening song to the last, they played an impressive set. I must admit I’d only listened to a couple of tracks quickly before the gig, but that didn’t matter, whether you were familiar with their songs or not, you couldn’t help but be blown away by their quality.
Of course with a label like Bella Union, with an ex-Cocteau Twin as a boss, you know he’s only going to work with talented musicians, he’s not going to get some bog standard session musicians, but despite having high expectations, they surpassed them.
We did wonder before their set whether they would do any Cocteau Twins songs. I never managed to catch them in their day, but a band I’ve always wanted to see.
I could certainly see the lead singer doing some Cocteau numbers, she has an impressive voice and an other-worldly persona, not a carbon copy of Liz Fraser but mesmerising in her own right.
But no, not tonight, though to be honest they didn’t need any gimmicks or nod to the past, this band is very much about the future, and I can’t wait to get another opportunity to catch them.
BC Camplight is the moniker of American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio currently residing in Manchester, formerly on the One Little Indian label. He got off to a bit of a sweary start, and mentioned that he’s bunged up with a cold, though to be honest if he hadn’t mentioned it I wouldn’t have noticed, his voice was powerful, his songs impressive, and he had a great sense of humour that had the audience in stitches on a couple of occasions.
Hilang Child is the alter ego of London based multi-instrumentalist Ed Riman, who also performed with Lost Horizons later in the evening. A great voice and great tunes, a strong opening to a great night of fab music.
Originally published in Urbanista Magazine UK
Words + Pictures by John W. King