The Damn Truth + The Cold Stares
Friday 21st July 2023
O2 Academy 2 Islington, London
I will admit to being a The Damn Truth virgin at this point. Though I have been aware of this fine Montreal based band, I had not had the chance to see them, mainly because of the Covid lockdown and the cancelled tours, but Lee-la and the boys were back to prove a point and they meant it.
With a new album under their belts, the mighty fine 'Now Or Nowhere', produced by the legendary Bob Rock, this is where The Damn Truth make their mark, leaning heavily on this release for the majority of the first part of their set.
They burst onto the stage and straight into 'This Is Who We Are Now', a classic rocky intro to their show, displaying their power and punch and showing off some of Bob Rock’s influence in their production and dynamics. It was also the perfect way to introduce guitarist Tom Shemer to proceedings and he certainly proved a point! With that, the crowd were engaged straight from the off!
Staying with the Bob Rock produced album, they quickly steamed into the aptly named: 'Full On You' and showed off their musical prowess in full. Big vocals and big guitars is how I would best describe what these Canadians do so well, ignoring the slight pedal problems in the intro, but hey, it is live after all and when you’ve got PY Letellier on bass, there to cover any such instances, you know you are in safe hands!
Then it was back to their debut album, ‘Dear In The Headlights’, and the track 'Too Late', before delving even further back in time with 'Pirates And Politicians' from the 2016 album: ‘Devilish Folk’, more from that later. But then it was time to get up to date with more from the ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ album with a trio of powerful tracks.
First out was the haunting, powerful and poignant song, 'Lonely', a song written only days before their van caught fire and everything went up in flames! We were treated to a wonderful guitar solo, echoing the pain of the loss. We can only be thankful that that wasn’t the end for the band, something that would have defeated a lot of musicians. As they say: “What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger” and this was certainly the case!
'Only Love' and the 'Look Innocent', also from the latest album, show off the power and dynamics of this band and showcase Lee-la ’s vocals perfectly perfectly, but then it was time to look back at their early years with the ever powerful track 'Devilish Folk'. I get why these guys are getting noticed now and they definitely deserve a larger audience, but sadly, this has been slowed by the lack of touring over the last few years, but the good thing is that everything has picked up and everyone seems to be on the road these days.
Back to the task in hand and 'The Fire', from the latest album gets a showing before the band dive back in their past with the song: 'Get With You' which has turned into a guitar extravaganza, exciting everyone with some great guitar-pedal prowess while crawling around! And suddenly we were at the end of the show. It seemed so early, but that’s the way of things these days, so it was time for the finale with the wonderful 'Tomorrow'.
A short exit saw the band return for an excellent couple of encores: First up, the U2 cover of 'Love Is Blindness' followed by a trip back in time to their first album and the ever powerful: 'Heart Is Gold'. Credit to Dave Triana on the drums, for keeping things together with some excellent chops!
This was a great night which was deserving of a larger venue, but that may be next time round, when they return as support to Glenn Hughes. I look forward to it! Now speaking of the support band slot, last night it was the turn of The Cold Stares to start the proceedings off.
Again, I had only seen the name around, but had not actually heard them until last night. This was a very odd pairing, in my opinion as we were treated to the equivalent of an American ’Shoe-gazing’ band giving support to an overtly ‘showy’ Canadian outfit. An odd, and rather mismatched combination, if ever there was one.
Opening their set with 'Nothing But The Blues' and 'Come For Me', the Memphis band hit their form pretty quickly, but the core of the band weren’t exactly the most exciting band visually, but their playing was excellent. 'Fool' and 'Heavy Shoes' followed in a similar vein and were well received, but it was quite obvious as to who the crowd were there for and it wasn’t for the band that seemed insistent on singing songs about the wind blowing…
'Prosecution Blues', 'Giving It Up' and 'Blow Wind Blow' kept up their ‘shoe-gazing’ take on the Blues, before rounding things up with '2 Keys' and 'Head Bent'. Well played, but didn’t quite get me where I was expecting to be.
Personally, I think that Empyre, who I have seen before, will be a much better pairing in the support slot for the rest of the tour, but that is only my personal opinion.
The Damn Truth were the damn truth! Catch them while you can. Excellent entertainment!
The Damn Truth - July 2023 UK Tour. Tickets - https://rb.gy/rh4w5
With special guests **Empyre
**Leicester, Musician - Tuesday July 23
**Buckley, Tivoli - Thursday July 27
**Leek , Foxlowe Arts Centre - Friday July 28
Steelhouse Festival - Saturday July 29
The Greystones, Sheffield - Sunday July 30
**Milton Keynes, The Stables MK - Tuesday August 1