Do yourself a favour. If you’ve not yet seen any live music at the Shakespeare, get down there pronto. Upstairs is what must be Sheffield’s best live venue, but its future is uncertain, as the place is due to be sold next year. If just being there is a treat, then watching Thomas Truax perform there is the closest you will get to a slice of Wednesday night heaven.
A Masculine Protest are first on. An unlikely combination of ex-Fury of the Headteachers and Hotsnack members, their sonic assault on the audience is a shifting tapestry of fascinating sounds, occasional strange lyrics but most importantly, a pulsating energy. The two of them play keyboards, press buttons and twiddle with FX devices to create something not easy to describe, as they produce music which verges close to being noise, but always retains enough rhythm and structure to be listenable. It is absolutely the most exciting live performances I have seen in ages. We could be in some avant-garde New York music venue; such is the sense of unease and excitement created by their free-form electronic soundscape. It’s thrilling and challenging in equal measure, and in the main, the audience are impressed. If anyone wanted to synthesise the antidote to this, they would be hard pushed not to invent the next act; Chris Saunders and Dave Woodcock. It does what it says on the tin with these two guitar-playing blokes. Every song seems to be about drinking, apart from the ones that are about not drinking, and one song seems to merge into the next. A real letdown after the excitement of the opening act, but they are both fine musicians, playing with great skill and enthusiasm, and most of the crowd lap it up.
Now, anyone unfamiliar with tonight’s headline act might want to Google a picture of him. He will no doubt be accompanied by one of his amazing home-made musical instruments, the like of which you will never have seen before. In fact Thomas Truax himself is a phenomenon you will never have seen the like of before. There’s a fine line between unique and insane, and it’s a line that Thomas Truax not only walks, but has also made his own. A true eccentric, his music part David Byrne, part Heath-Robinson, part David Lynch, and yes I know the last two don’t even make music, but if they did, this is the sound they would make. In fact, some of his music tonight is taken from his now officially endorsed album of covers of music from Lynch’s movies. He made this soundtrack music even more weird and wonderful, whilst dazzling us with his own songs such as ‘Moon over Wowtown’ and ‘Prove it to my daughter’. When his guitar began to break down it merely made us appreciate his invention and warm personality all the more. I’ve never been disappointed by Mr Truax, and tonight was a truly fantastic evening. His music has to be appreciated live, more than anyone I’ve ever seen. Search him out and make it your business to experience this truly unique artist in his natural habitat.