This is what electricity was invented for. Two years after the whole world changed forever, it seems like we’re certainly coming back to some sort of normality and the packed audience at the acoustically perfect and architecturally impressive Apex were there to just soak up every note.
King King / The Damn Truth.
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, 23 February 2022.
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Laurence Harvey
It was a night to truly celebrate, and with two of the best bands on the circuit bringing their A-game, there was no excuse not to kick back and let the music flood your senses in a euphoric wave.
The word is that they’re destined to be one of the biggest bands on the globe, and Canada’s The Damn Truth certainly provide a glorious echo to the days when the giants of rock roamed the Earth in the late ’60s and into the ’70s. With a heady mix of Led Zeppelin riffing, Stones strut, Jefferson Airplane otherworldly cool and a touch of Fleetwood Mac’s class, the band bring their incendiary rock ‘n’ roll to technicolour life.
There’s something distinctly wild about the quartet, the power of the music played with a rarely seen mix of both commitment and joy that is dangerously infectious.
Wreathed in purple light, the band stroll on, pick up their instruments and tear into This Is Who We Are Now like their lives depend on it, guitarist Tom Shemer twirling around, bass player PY Letellier arched backwards, Dave Triana a blur of arms and hair as he drums and lead singer Lee-La Baum shining as her voice shimmies and seduces.
The chorus is as much a declaration of intent as a stirring, teeth-rattling opener to what would prove to be an incendiary set, and without exception, all eyes were turned to the stage.
The huge grooves of Full On You, with its playful double end and Too Late, turn up the heat to boiling point. The latter features some monumental vocals from Baum as she channels the soul-deep yet sky-scraping spirit of Grace Slick. Lonely is a kaleidoscope of heavy blues with a jubilant Only Love featuring a blistering solo from Shemer.
The allotted half-hour set seemed to fly by in a fraction of the time, closing number Tomorrow with its chiming riff, sealing the deal and proving that this growing whisper that The Damned Truth are destined for glory is far from rhetoric.
Truly one of the most exciting and jaw-dropping bands around, the four Canadians won over a curious crowd and turned them into a sea of converts whilst setting an unfeasibly high benchmark for the headliners to reach. Rock’ n’ roll nirvana.
Fortunately, King King are more than capable of holding their own, the blues rockers having earned their stripes due to constant touring and a string of acclaimed albums. With the roar of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell heralding their entrance, Alan Nimmo and his merry men kicked off with the chunky riff of (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’, the song a perfect amalgam of melody and grit.
Sounding like something former touring partners Thunder would write, Fire In My Soul is another commercial yet ballsy rocker that gets the audience singing, its immediacy meaning that everyone joins in with the chorus irrespective of whether it’s the first time some have heard it.
The sheer exuberant bonhomie of being back on stage with friends, playing to a sea of smiling faces, is an incredibly tangible thing tonight, the upbeat and pertinent One World a call for unity. After Waking Up had got even those seated on the balcony on their feet, the atmosphere soaked Rush Hour, a monumental, heavy ballad loaded with big harmonies and dynamics, was a striking change in mood and Nimmo’s guitar sang beautifully.
Similarly, the organ drenched A Long History Of Love was heartbreakingly epic, the playing of keys man Jonny Dyke reminiscent of Procol Harem.
A sinewy You Stopped The Rain caused another singalong, while Everything Will Be Alright once more proved that you can use heavy-duty guitarwork and thread it delicately into a song to power it, not overwhelm, as Alan and brother Steve Nimmo’s fretwork and the vocal harmonies intertwined.
Reflecting on the recent lockdown, the singer/guitarist confirmed just how glad he was to be able to get back to his proper job, his declaration “you don’t want me fixing your car” greeted with laughter before Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes).
With Dyke’s keys, the bass of Zander Greenshields and Andrew Scott’s drums locking in with the Nimmo’s guitars, Whatever It Takes To Survive built and built into a huge wall of sound, the solo another scorcher.
Closing the main set, the defiant I Will Not Fall and feelgood Let Love In brought funk and soul together as smiles wreathed faces all around. For the encore, the Nimmos and Dyke returned for a beautiful and sparse When My Winter Comes, the two voices and keys a soulful delight before the full band joined in for a tumultuous Stranger To Love that brought the night to a close proper in a display of sonic fireworks.
Two bands at the top of their game and one evening never to be forgotten. The future of rock is in very safe hands.