With a night off of their tour with Glenn Hughes, rather than take things easy, The Damn Truth swept into Norwich to build on their already solid reputation. Whilst their truncated support set for the former Deep Purple bass player and vocalist impressed many, this headline show showed precisely why they’re so hot right now.
The Damn Truth – Black Spire
The Waterfront, Norwich – 24 October 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Possibly pathologically unable to do a bad show, the friendly Canadian quartet captured rock’s excitement and raw soul in one life-changing bundle.
Whilst they’re surely destined for arenas and have the music to match this lofty ambition, it’s up close and personal that you truly get to witness just how powerful they are. The stage radiates something so thrilling yet intangible that it seems almost otherworldly but actually keys into the sublime thrill of discovering music that truly opens your eyes for the first time.
There’s honesty and integrity here about what they do, emotions ranging from the slightest whisper to the loudest roar.
Endowed with enough charisma to light up a city, the nattily dressed team have a bohemian air but one with dirt under their fingernails, the mix of glam and grit an undeniably heady combination.
As always, the set opens with the swiftly accelerating This Is Who We Are Now, Dave Traina’s drums spitting fire and Lee-la Baum’s honey whisky vocals spirited and sensual. It’s a goosebump-provoking sight and sound, the room awash with light and visceral thrills.
With his long hair and sparkling red shirt, guitarist Tom Shemer looks every inch the ’70s rock god, his playing wringing out big riffs and passion with every note. On the other side of the stage, the ever-moving PY Letellier is equally strikingly dressed, a smile permanently on his face as he brings a fluid bottom end to proceedings.
With its insistent hook and swing, Full On You continues the good time groove, Baum playfully toying with Shemer as she moves with the music, things heating up further for the slithering tempo of Too Late. It’s all a wonderful blizzard of sound and colour, all played with a joy that’s infectious and yet with such finesse.
Letellier is the joker of the pack, the wild and unpredictable one who wears a tambourine as a crown during Pirates & Politicians or plays his bass behind his head. At the rear of the stage, Traina brings muscle to the backbeat but also a great feel to his playing as numbers like Look Innocent and The Fire highlight his touch.
With fan favourites like Only Love and Tomorrow causing joyful sing-alongs, the new single I Just Gotta Let You Know stands up well and points to their forthcoming third album as something that will push them even higher.
With great material, incendiary shows and more soul than virtually every other band on the planet, The Damn Truth are unstoppable, their road ever-rising.
Opening the night, local outfit Black Spire impressed with their own take on stoner rock, their sound a unique mix of Clutch, The Doors and The Cult. The woozy Hollow Gaze brings trippy guitars with an unsettling air of something wicked this way coming, the vocals raw and bleeding, Lightning Strikes Woman a cry in the desert night.
Not afraid to push boundaries, the skittering Devil’s Grin is all barbed wire funk and Slow Down features some great vocal harmonies that come out of left field.
Unafraid to rock out, the threat of “this will rip your face off” before they launch into Cast Me Off is a big claim, but the song certainly hits hard, and this and the psychedelic Dark Skies sets the band out as one to watch.
With a disappointing showing from Norwich City over the river at the Carrow Road football ground, at least one team of Norfolk players delivered the goods that night, and the quartet deservedly made some new friends.
There’s still plenty of work to do, but Black Spires are an intriguing prospect and one that’s destined to break out of the pastoral setting of their Norfolk home.