Lee Ranaldo & El Rayo – Leeds Belgrave Music Hall


Lee is free, (he’s been free for nearly ten years now, but it’s always a worthwhile reference), and he’s currently putting together his new album with El Rayo, Electric Rim. No one seems to have any idea when it will actually be out, not even Lee himself, but in November he toured it all anyway.

As each member of Sonic Youth went separate ways to record their own material, it became evident just what each member brought to the now extinct band. Thurston Moore provided the general noise of the band, Kim Gordon flourished it with some artistic leanings, and Lee brought some structure to it all, showing a clear love for bands like the Grateful Dead, and… the Grateful Dead.

The live show had Lee & El Rayo plugging through the new material, Lee generally sticking to electric acoustics, a far cry from the heydays of using a drill as a guitar pick, but the rest of the band took care of anyone’s desire for a bit of should be patented Sonic Youth noise.

The new material was often preceded by a few comments, explanations on just what these songs were actually about. ‘Last Look’ came from the idea that those words are the last thing said to news reporters before they have to deliver some hard-hitting facts/gossip, and it’s not hard to guess just what may have influenced the song ‘Thrown Over The Wall’. As a preview to the new album, Lee did a good job of providing some insights, no liner notes required!

‘Uncle Skeleton’ was perhaps the highlight of the show, sounding as if two cowboy film soundtracks had been meshed together, according to Lee anyway. The track takes the innocence of the lyrics found in the Skeleton Song (the leg bones connected to the… so and so), then mixes it with the idea of ripping off your own flesh, it’s ‘Shaking Hell‘ all over again!

The night ended with the seafaring song that never left shore, ‘The Rising Tide’, and a noise driven cover of the Lou Reed classic ‘Ocean’, which probably won’t be on the new album, but was a nice finisher all the same. Maybe it could be a bonus track for the deluxe edition that will never come out?

Whatever the case, Lee Ranaldo & El Rayo showed that the album Electric Rim will be more than worth the wait, however long that wait will be. I’ll keep my flesh on in the meantime.


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