Expanded Brooklyn trio rock London

Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant are She Keeps Bees, a Brooklyn-based duo who have been peddling stripped-back blues rock since 2006. With LaPlant on drums and Larrabee playing guitar and singing on their three self-recorded albums (the last in a log home in New York’s Catskill Mountains), She Keeps Bees has nailed the raw aesthetic that heralded in early the Black Keys recordings.

Tonight the duo is a trio with Oh Ruin’s guitarist joining Larrabee and LaPlant on stage. The first half of the set is filled with short, bluesy rock songs that don’t overstay their welcome, including the howling and frenzied ‘Farmer’ (taken from the new album ‘Dig On’) and the introspective ‘Gimme’.

If Larrabee’s voice is familiar, it’s because you may recall her soulful vocals from ‘Look Me In The Eye Sister’, the opening track from Groove Armada’s latest album ‘Black Light’. In a deft move, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay had her sing on two other tracks from the album as well, ‘Just for Tonight’ and ‘Time & Space’. And at the Lexington, it’s the tracks that Larrabee sings accompanied only by LaPlant on the drums that are the most compelling. She reduces the room to silence with ‘All or None?/?Dark Horse’, with LaPlant’s beat and Larrabee’s gutsy, primal singing creating a peculiarly American, campfire feel upstairs in this north London pub.

The music is moody but Larrabee is certainly not. Between songs, she’s bubbly and candid and quick to laugh, riffing on her new vintage shirt as she tunes her guitar. She ducks off stage at the end of the set but is back quickly to play four more songs; after powering through a set’s worth in less than half an hour, the encore is warranted. It’s an epilogue of boozy, smoky barroom rocking. It’s clear Larrabee has sung her heart out, which is a shame as I could listen to her all night.

Words by Nic Heath
Photo by Stephen Fourie

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