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Live: Lee Ranaldo - Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, London

Lee Ranaldo is somewhat of a phoenix in character, after the demise of Sonic Youth he has gone on to release three solo albums either under his own name or The Dust, but instead of taking the easy route of making a rehashed version of his former band he traded in the Fender Jazzmasters and fuzz pedals that he used to shape a generation of alternative music for acoustic guitars, folk-tinged lyrics and even the odd touch of synthesizer and electronic percussion.

This week he played an intimate show in London, the first UK performance in support of his most recent release Electric Trim, it followed a screening the previous night of HELLO, HELLO, HELLO: LEE RANALDO: ELECTRIC TRIM, Fred Riedel documentary on the making of the album, and saw an audience of highly recognisable faces there to see their hero or peer.

The show saw support from London-based Grimm Grimm who gave a personal and strong spirited performance that was slightly too ramshackle in parts but amicably atmospheric in others. The main event saw Ranaldo play with a trio which included Raul Refree; Ranaldo’s main collaborator and producer on the album, on electric guitar and various other noise making devices as well as the genre-hopping drummer and percussionist Booker Stardrum on rhythm duties.

The set opened with an ambient version of ‘Moroccan Mountains’ which incorporated violin bows and African percussion, showing that even in a stripped back and primarily acoustic ensemble Ranaldo’s experimental approach was not going to be compromised. He seemed in good spirits, introducing ‘Thrown Over The wall’ as his song for the resistance and giving brief socially political monologues of hope and progression between songs.

The show comprised wholly of tracks from the new album, a task that could have been difficult when compared to the density of the recorded material, however, the interplay and interpretation between the trio saw the songs really became their own in a live setting. With this being a performance by three talented and diverse musicians and not simply an artist and a backing band.  

Being a founding member of a band that holds a legacy as influential as Sonic Youth must be both a blessing and a curse, the later especially preeminent for members wanting to pursue new ventures. However, even when creating something musically and lyrically very different Ranaldo still manages to embody the spirit and ethos of what made their music so great in the first place, and because of this ability, he is an artist who will always be relevant.  

You can read our interview with Lee Ranaldo on the making of Electric Trim here and catch him on a series of European tour dates below:

28 Feb – BE Gent – Vooruit
1 Mar – NL Amsterdam – Bitterzoet
2 Mar – DE Hamburg – Kampnagel
3 Mar – DE Berlin – Roter Salon Am Volksbühne
4 Mar – DE Heidelberg – Karlstorbahnhof
6 Mar – IT Trento – Teatro Sanbapolis
7 Mar – IT Milano – Magnola
8 Mar – CH Winterthur – Salzhaus
9 Mar – FR Metz – Les Trinitaires
10 Mar – FR Lyon – Epicerie Moderne
11 Mar – FR Montpellier – Victoire 2
12 Mar – ES Barcelona – Centre Artesà Tradicionàrius