Live at The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

As Thomas Truax said onstage this evening; it’s the 29th of February, an extra day, a freebie, so why not make the most of it. The crowd in the intimate setting of the Cumberland Arms certainly made the most of it tonight, looking on in wonder/bewilderment at Thomas and his ever expanding array of homemade “instruments”. Before that though we get another one man show in the form of Waskerley Way, a local musician who loops shoe-gaze guitar layers with naturally indistinguishable vocals and a laptop rhythm section. The only problem with this setup is that however many layers are added to the mix, and however intense the music gets, it always ends with the awkward sight a man pressing stop on a laptop, which tends to lose some momentum in an otherwise decent set (incidentally, it’s endearing that the blatantly digitalised Waskerley Way is peddling his music on cassettes after the show, you just can’t get away from those chunky old formats!). Thomas Truax has similar difficulties starting and stopping songs but it’s both funny and fascinating to watch the mad musical inventor grappling with his temperamental equipment/band mates (we’re told that Mother Superior, the drum machine made from a bicycle wheel, broke down last night in Preston, but thankfully “she” is back in fine form tonight). Truax opens the set with “The Cannibals Have Captured Our Nicole Kidman” using the his Hornicator (a microphone made from a gramophone horn which doubles as a uniquely eerie string instrument), it’s a mesmerising start to a thoroughly engaging show. We get to hear many of the highlights of Truax’s recent Monthly Journal album, including the rockabilly “February What Ya Doin To Me” and the poignant “March Winds”. These are interspersed with some crowd pleasers, most notably the traditional run through of “Full Moon Over Wowtown”, during which Truax stalks the crowd under a neatly projected full moon and proceeds to exit the venue through the fire exit with a gaggle of keen audience members in tow, only to appear back inside a few minutes later to finish the number (apparently, during his walkabout, Truax was involved in an impromptu jam with the traditional Irish band playing downstairs…). Truax is a truly original and entertaining live performer, he must have the patience of a saint to transport, unpack and set up these amazing instruments every night but thankfully for us he’s at the top of his game.

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