Thomas Truax,The Spirit of John,Juffage Live Review @ Oporto (Leeds) - 02 Mar 2010

Thomas Truax - Photo: Andrew Werner
Thomas Truax
Photo: Andrew Werner

Live Review

It's only a movie, it's only a show. The Oporto stage, if that is how it can be described, stands quite literally inside the vast front window of this bar in The Calls area of Leeds. If you were on the outside looking in this evening you would have variously seen the Chicagoan multi-instrumentalist Jeff T. Smith, Juffage, the rockabilly duo The Sprit of John and the true wizard and shining star of this deadyoungrecords promoted event, the maverick New York singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, inventor, performer and all round good egg, Thomas Truax. If you were one of the constantly evolving audience of anything between twenty to fifty people, including a random assortment of geeks, giffers, gonzos and an incredibly irritating chap in a Gringo Starr T-shirt, who were looking beyond the stage and onto a turbulent sea of humanity cascading in and out of the surrounding bars, brasseries and taxi cabs it would be debatable and heavily dependent upon perspective, strong liquor and levels of narcotic ingestion as to which view was the stranger.

As a cast of, well, tens drifted in and out of the adjoining bar area, Juffage with the able assistance of loop-pedals, cassette players, guitars and the wholesale battering of a drum kit into hopeless and complete submission, possibly won few friends but clearly will influence others with his wildly exuberant yet deceptively delicate take on the popular song. The Spirit of John, the frighteningly snake-hipped and wonderfully young Adam and Josh had a whole lot of shaking going on in what might once have been Johnny Cash's grave. Yet it was the other man in black, he of the raven's wing hair and who in a certain light had more than a passing resemblance to Nick Cave who stole this particular show. With his orchestra of home-made instruments, including the Hornicator, Stringaling and the gloriously spinning and wonderfully self-descriptive Backbeater already in place, he cupped that extended gramophone horn to his ear and to an accompanying howling wind invited us to prove to his daughter that we loved her. If we could have, she would most probably have turned out to Coraline or some corpse bride. This is the world that Thomas Truax inhabits; slightly sinister, yet strangely comedic. Dark yet infused with light. This synthesis is captured quite perfectly during "Full Moon Over Wowtown" when he left the stage, peered momentarily though a porthole in the wall adjoining the stage and bar areas, his face a ghostly apparition in the candlelight, before spinning out onto the pavement to pirouette madly around and around to the total bemusement of this Tuesday evening, Call Lane flow of human traffic.

We could but only watch nervously through the cinemascope vista of the Oporto window. Art was imitating life and we were part of that performance. Mr Truax came back in from the cold and treated us to a strangulated "I Put a Spell on You" before tearing through a strangely pure cover of Big Joe Williams' "Baby, Please Don't Go", either side of which he inhabits the twilight worlds of David Lynch film scores. This entire experience is akin to watching a movie captured in real time and then projected onto a 20' x 10' pane of glass, with Thomas Truax's music as its distinctive, disturbing and yet ultimately definitive soundtrack. This essence is rare. Capture it while you can.

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