I’m not really sure what support would be fitting for a Thomas Truax gig when I think about it, but for some reason I am quite surprised to see this shy, sad seeming girl with purple hair and a red top playing some sort of ultra reverb guitar with 2 microphones.  SILVER kind of creates the effect of being underwater.  My friend says it’s “just a big noise” but I really like the sound she is creating and everyone is agreed that she has a great voice; pure and open especially in contrast to her distorted guitar.  Reminiscent of PJ Harvey perhaps.

Manchester based SONGS FOR WALTER look very colourful on stage and have an intriguing looking table with various hitting implements: it, of course, turns out to be a drum.  It’s jingly, summer music.  They are very cute and to further add to the cuteness Walter turns out to be lead singer, Laurie Hulme’s, grandfather with a lot of the songs seemingly about him.  It’s a pretty touching ode and my favourite song, the penultimate, ‘Meet Me At The Empire’ a tale of Hulme’s grandparents’ first date and is the title track for their EP which comes with photos from the family album which you can change to choose your own cover.   I think this is a great idea and the boyfriend is impressed by their creativity, classifying them as well crafted, well executed pop (and he is not easily musically pleased).  He compares them to Belle and Sebastian and Decemberists.

The promoter describes the performances of THOMAS TRUAX as ‘full of dark intrigue, black comedy and instruments you have never seen before in your life.’ Sharp dresser Truax certainly sets the scene appearing on stage to very dimmed lights with some kind of head torch and a big, modified horn about his face as he announces he’s always wanted to say ‘welcome to the castle’ in that haunting voice which, combined with his pale appearance, wild hair and full suit (with waistcoat and tie) makes him seem quite Dracula-esq.

He begins with ‘Songs To Clear The Air Of Evils’ accompanied by his drummer Mother Superior; an intricate, self-envisioned masterpiece that he has crafted and cared for with an obvious fondness which comes across in the way that he talks to/about her.  Truax has obviously been playing with Mother Superior for a long time (or she is very clearly the product of his mind) as they are very tight.

Truax then moves on to ‘Wicked Game’ taken from the album ‘Songs From The Films Of David Lynch’. I’ve heard many good versions of this song but Truax’s version has its own style with a low almost whispery voice.  I like how he can swap his song styles around so much; going from his fun, crazy songs to more serious, normal sounding songs, right back into the good-time-funness again.  This unclassifiable approach contributes to the general wonderment surrounding Truax who is in turn surrounded by the wonder of his own musical creations, scattered about the stage.

His quirkiness is interesting when you consider that he is covering songs from the films of another quirky artist; David Lynch, as it is at the same time similar and completely different in style which somehow just adds to the eccentricity of it all.

I always think that The Castle looks like a sauna and tonight it feels like one too.  I’m starting to feel a bit overheated and thinking it’s quite annoying that I can’t see very well despite the intimacy of the room due to the crowd.  At that thought Truax climbs off the stage and circles and saunters around the room; climbing up onto the nearest high thing to play, then getting down and circling the crowd and spinning round and round so everybody has a clear view.  The crowd are really loud and appreciative and love the joining in.

His next song is introduced as a song that you should throw people in dark rooms to listen to (as happened to a member of Songs for Walter apparently) it’s about a butterfly and the violence of man, in which he uses a personal handheld fan (making a joke about how he hopes everyone was issued with one) to strum his guitar.  The effect is beautiful and the story captivating.  I’m trying to think about how I could describe the experience with words and Truax’s next song is about having nothing new to say ‘cos you’re postmodern.  This may well be the case.

We hear songs from his monthly journal project, have the delight of more Lynch film songs, and get to experience such instruments as The Stringaling, Scary Aerial and the Backbeater, then comes the boyfriend’s long awaited favourite ‘Beehive Heart’ in which Truax performs with some spectacular specs which come with lights and spinning and when the Hornicator is over his face he really does look quite bee like.  At this point we weigh up whether we should stay for the final song or run for the last tram home.  I say weigh up, it was really more of a ‘well we can’t leave now’ acknowledgement that we would miss the tram and Truax wins and we stay to hear about a picnic he was having with his dog, Doug, crashed by ants and he performs for us a musical interpretation of said invasion.  He also questions his dog on why dogs howl at the moon.  Truax’s stories have an interesting take on the interaction between man and nature.  It’s generally a very interesting show and as Steve questions what kind of mind could even contemplate such creations?  Look out for Truax; you don’t want to miss him he is truly a one-off.  And now for some David Lynch…

Louise Fletcher

Originally from Bristol, I emigrated to The North after studying Sociology at Exeter University. In my opinion the Manchester music scene is pretty unbeatable and very inspiring! It even encouraged me to start a band! Long live the live music scene!