It’s hard not to go into a show like The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger without just a little bit of apprehension and a whole lot of awe. The apprehension comes from the fact that this might be some kind of vapid vanity project, considering the two members are Sean Lennon, son of one of the most revered people in the history of people (John Lennon); the other is Charlotte Kemp Muhl, a model and Lennon’s girlfriend. And the awe comes from the fact that you’re standing in the room with (only the slightest bit of hyperbole) “royal blood”.
However, it doesn’t take long for the apprehension to disappear, in fact it happens somewhere around point that the first chord is strummed; and just like that the trepidation is gone, like the ghost of said elusive Saber Tooth Tiger. And quickly the awe becomes the music that’s being made in front of you.
Backed-up by the members of The Invisible Familiar, Sean, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father in both visual aesthetic and vocal acumen, is truly a charismatic force on stage.
A vanity project this most certainly is not.
The band’s debut album, Midnight Sun, is a surprisingly pleasant swirl of psychedelic folk rock. But it in no way prepares you for the strength and power of their live show. Muhl’s voice is haunting but sweet, filling even the furthest corners of Zanzabar. Zbar being the perfect venue for what proved to be such a moving and intimate performance from Lennon and Muhl, who feed off a sort of perverse chemistry that exists between collaborators and lovers.
Throughout the show Muhl continuously kicked out a thumping, bluesy bass line; a rhythmic umbilical cord connecting her to the music she composed. Lennon, shared vocal duties throughout, but as a guitarist he is irreplaceable, he has a jagged distinct style that wavers back and forth from bluesy garage solos to ambient psychedelia, and then makes roots in the thinny between.
I am ashamed of myself for the low expectations I had put on The Ghost of Saber Tooth Tiger (a ridiculous name, yet you smile every time you say it), and cannot overstate how ultimately breathtaking the show was. If you missed this show, you missed transient evening for the ages.