Lebeaux – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 8th April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

It is clear that no one ever told Lebeaux that Sunday’s are usually the day of rest. Their single launch for ‘Gold Man (I’m Chemical)’ was an exceptionally raucous affair that totally brought the party down to The Hope & Ruin. The three-piece are an incredibly confident band and, crucially, there’s absolutely no one doing what they’re doing at the moment. They’re a real throwback to the world of 70s funk and soul, with a delightfully modern twist.

The Brighton-based band, formed by Turrell Lebeaux on lead vocals, Luke Campbell on drums, and Rob Bensusan on bass teamed up with two excellent backing singers on the night to create their extraordinary mixture of r’n’b, funk and pop. The real selling point here, though, is Turrell Lebeaux’s incredible nous as a captivating frontman, coming across as playful, unique and a preposterous amount of fun. Not only that, but he’s got a marvellous vocal range, with a dynamic sense of movement. In fact, there’s a touch of the musical greats about him.

Opening on the night, and further proving that Brighton doesn’t just do guitar bands, were Kudu Blue, who instantly set the mood with their brand of 90s style r’n’b. Having sold-out London dates, as well as playing sessions for the likes of Sofar Sounds, they’re an extremely exciting prospect and, as such, they played to a packed-out crowd eager to get a glimpse of them. Their latest single, ‘Sugar Lemz’, is a delicate, chilled-out cut that draws from a variety of inspirations, which creates a very mature sound, as well as cracking vocals from singer Clem.

It was Lebeaux’s night, however, and they stole the show from the moment they waltzed onto the stage. Opening with a cheeky “We sold the fuck out yo!”, the atmosphere started off as electric and grew further and further into hysteria with every song. An early showing of ‘Daybreak’, an upbeat track with an exciting amalgam of funk and soul, had an extremely addictive chorus of: “Giving you all the sun/give it all back to me” which was soon sung back to the band in unison. Likewise, one of the highlights of the night was an incredibly soulful rendition of Snoop Dogg’s ‘Who Am I (What’s My Name)?’ which saw both the crowd and Turrell Lebeaux break out into creative and captivating dance moves.

“We’ve been waiting four whole years for this moment”, Turrell announces about debut single ‘Gold Man (I’m Chemical)’, and it’s plain to see. Not only are Lebeaux far, far better than any band have any right to be with just a debut single out, but they’ve built up a fan base that already absolutely loves them. They know the words, they dance along and scream in adulation. ‘Gold Man (I’m Chemical)’, in particular, proves the band’s knack for an iconic melody, with an immense chorus that everyone joins in with. It’s got the funkiness of ‘Strut Your Funky Stuff’ by Frantique with the dynamism of the modern funk greats Kamasi Washington and Thundercat.

Unfortunately, the curfew came far too early – for both the audience and the band. It was clear that Lebeaux could have gone all night, but they ended with frontman Turrell Lebeaux announcing “We’re gonna keep the momentum going, we ain’t gonna stop. We’re going right to the top!” On this performance, there’s really no other way for them to go. It was sheer class and, for a gig at a relatively small venue, it felt absolutely huge. If Lebeaux can do this on a Sunday night, it boggles the mind just thinking about what they’d do on a Saturday.

Liam McMillen

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