July 23, 2024

The Damn Truth – Live in Leeds 2023 – “hard rock set of hippies that simply love the music and make you love it too”

Live at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds              16th October 2023

The Damn Truth are the sort of band people take friends to see, saying ‘you have to hear this’. There’s a reason – this bunch of Canadians are the hardest working band, putting out a set of perfected songs and performances, and have a raw sincerity that makes you feel you’ve personally helped them by turning out. Tonight I spoke to people who’d come to see them on the back of their local support slot for Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple) only a week ago. Singer, Lee-La Baum, takes a few opportunities to tell us how completely bowled over she is to see familiar faces and to see people singing their songs. And she means it.

Setting their stall out by playing Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ as walk-on music, The Damn Truth are definitely in the classic rock genre and they get the amps turned up higher than is normal for The Brudenell Social Club, giving the full vibrating ribcage effect. The effect of ninety minutes of the band is energising and the sincerity of Lee-la is refreshing.

Opening with their statement of intent, the opening track of their recent album, ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, the impact is immediate and I smile. Lee-la is full-on vocally and the band are totally behind her. Working together beautifully, as you might expect after nine years of hard gigging, the band make sure there is constant musical and physical motion. Lead guitar, bass and singer wander across the stage to interact and play off each other. Tom Shemer on lead guitar plonks his foot on the monitor and throws out some poses. Lee-la screws up her face and forces out some hard emotion. Her well-loved guitar adds to the sonic onslaughts frequently too.

Songs average out at six or seven minutes, allowing plenty of time to work in some solos, some crescendos and milking the energy. There’s plenty off the positive-energy 2021 ‘Now Or Nowhere’ album, like the second song, ‘Full On You’, about change, and the slow blues groove of ‘Lonely’, strutting sassy and crunchy. Also the chiming ballad, ‘Only Love’, which gets a drum solo, the hard rock of ‘The Fire’ and ‘Look Innocent’ (“come break my heart, but don’t look so innocent”). Even the ballads build into loud opportunities for loud guitars and belting vocals. It’s just as well that Tom Shemer is adept at the blues solo and Dave Trainer such a solid yet imaginative drummer. The USP of the band, however, is the astonishing larynx of Baum, with a voice made for this sort of thing, an amazingly powerful belting voice, yet one with feeling and soul – we’re in the territory of Grace Slick and Janis Joplin here but this voice is Baum’s own individual instrument and has a stamina that goes on and on.

By the time the encore arrives, the band is rolling hard and the new audience members won over. This isn’t a revivalist band, they are a hard rock set of hippies that simply love the music and put the mileage in to make you love it too.

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