The release of their Bob Rock produced third album has seen Montreal-based psychedelic quartet The Damn Truth catapult onto the UK Music Scene. This month sees them undertake their third nationwide tour in less than 18 months, which also makes a stop at the renowned Steelhouse Festival. Thursday evening saw them rock up in North Wales, and MetalTalk was there to soak up the paradoxically retro contemporary vibe.
The Damn Truth
Tivoli, Buckley – 27 July 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Jason Samuels
When the intro tape of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit rolled, one could already sense the air of anticipation from the modest but enthusiastic gathering.
As the intensifying guitars are joined by Lee-La’s penetrating wail, we have ignition in the form of This Is Who We Are Now. The stage was ablaze with energy and colour as the fusion of psychedelia, blues, soul, rock, and even power-pop cycled through the sonic kaleidoscope.
This is probably the number that announced their arrival to UK rock audiences and can be considered their own personal benchmark when it comes to composing concise and catchy. The inherent guitar solo is just exquisite, and Tom wasted no time in advancing to the lowered forestage to unleash this short sumptuous segment.
The staccato riffed Full On You was followed by Too Late, which combined a bluesy feel with a funky bass line.
Three numbers in, and this is already a much more engrossing package. The whole band have raised their game by at least a couple of notches since last autumn’s trek. Lee-la was more composed, magnetic, and totally lost in extracting every last nuance out of her vocal, instrumental and physical performance, while Tom, and PY on the Bass, were the embodiment of animated performance, whether riffing it up or delving into the more intricate.
Pirates & Politicians was a glorious ’70s Glam Rock stomp which got the hands and feet of the audience going.
If one was to generalise at a most basic level, one could argue that The Damn Truth’s songs fit into one of two categories. The concise infectious pop stylings of numbers, such as the opener, or the more intricate and substantial quasi-epics. Lonely was the first of the latter.
“I spent all my cash in an alley smoking hash. And it’s mealtime.” Lee-La’s vocalisations followed Tom’s extended and appropriately bluesy intro. The sound was so organic you could feel it.
“Brothers and Sisters, can you hear me? I’m lonely.” Only Love picks up the pace and is a magnificent melodic and infectious number with a soaring chorus which is still rattling around in my skull as I draft this.
Tom’s powerchord was the signal for Dave to initiate a brief Drum Solo that preceded Look Innocent. If there is a more soulful verse to any rock song, then I’ve yet to hear it. Something you wish you could have heard the late Etta James tackle.
“A song very much like the band.” The Fire was a smouldering powerhouse.
“Can you hear me back there? Let’s try something.” At this point, Lee-La had advanced to the forestage and was soon joined by Tom and PY, whereby they performed an acapella intro into a radically reworked Devilish Folk.
“There’s no room for people like you and me here.” An utter masterpiece and one of those rare, totally unexpected gig moments that was so utterly joyous it caused a few tears to form. With the audience joining in on the “Ba-Ra-Ras” of the finale, it moved Lee-La to say, “You have made us so incredibly happy and proud.”
One could easily have paused for breath here, but the band had other ideas. “Let’s pretend we’re at a festival. We want to hear you roar as if you were,” was the cue for the speedy Get With You.
Whilst Tomorrow if not a twin is very much a sibling of Only Love, with another hugely catchy and rousing chorus, it makes a perfect set closer.
Imagine if Beth Hart covered a U2 song with those plaintive tones extracting every last gram of raw emotion out of the song. That’s exactly what happened on the first encore number, Love Is Blindness. I don’t think that I can pay Lee-La a better compliment than making that comparison. I feel the need to check out the original now too.
Things were brought to a triumphant close with Heart Is Cold, again, reworked from how it was performed last time around. Descending from its epic highs saw Lee-La and Tom quite literally ‘getting down’ in a Third Stone From The Sun type segment.
The Damn Truth are an exceptional, tight, contemporary unit who are a must-see band.
In terms of their spirit and sartorial elegance, they harnessed the spirit of a classic bygone era to deliver 90 Minutes of the most perfectly crafted and enthusiastically executed rock music. It was an experience that had most attendees raving about what they had just witnessed.
Catch The Damn Truth in Leek tonight and Steelhouse Festival on Saturday. They also play The Greystones, Sheffield, on Sunday and The Stables, Milton Keynes, on Tuesday, 1 August.
The Damn Truth then return in October on tour with the Voice of Rock, Glenn Hughes.