It is quite the oddest stage set up The Lexington is likely to have seen in a good long while. Stage left, some sort of hyper-evolved gramophone horn hangs majestically from a stand. Stage right a contraption akin to the offspring of a bicycle and a vintage movie projector glistens under the stage lights, and the pair are joined onstage by all manner of bizarre brethren. Those undergoing the Thomas Truax experience for the first time scan the room with a mixture of wonder and bafflement, while seasoned fans grin in knowing anticipation.
First to share the stage with Truax’s creations is Billy Shinbone, who under normal circumstances would have an impressive array of instrumentation himself. Flitting between guitar, banjo and mandolin his mix of psychedelic folk and skiffle comes with a light hearted lyrical twist and plenty of engaging between-song banter with the crowd.
Next up, long-term Joyzine faves Bridport Dagger ramp up the tempo and the volume as they blast through an opening track that weaves together elements of dark rockabilly, furious post-punk and serrated surf-rock guitars. Recently, with tracks such as new single ‘Harry Dean Stanton’, they’ve added an extra strand of countrified melancholy to the slicked back riffage, and it fits them well.
Finally, headline act Thomas Truax takes to the stage amongst his creations and instantly transports us to curious world that is at once both warmly familiar and eerily off-kilter. Truax staples such as his venue wandering antics and crowd singalongs for ‘Full Moon Over Wowtown’, the wondrous storytelling of ‘The Butterfly & The Entomologist’, during which an echoey tremolo effect is achieved simply by playing the guitar with a hand-held electric fan, and the full-on head-set light show madness of ‘Beehive Heart’ are all as brilliant as ever, and there are plenty of new curveballs thrown in too – ‘Fat Spider’ from recent album Jetstream Sunrise tells the tale of a jealous singleton arachnid at a wedding and a new addition to the Truax clan, the Saxogramophone, created for his recent collaboration with Theatre Dortmund on a stage production of Peer Gynt makes its London debut with a haunting rendition of Grieg’s 150 year old soundtrack to the original Ibsen play.
By the end of the night we’ve also been introduced to the Hornicator, analogue drum machines Mother Superior and the Backbeater and the bizarre but wonderful Stringaling as well as the residents of Truax’s magical homeland Wowtown. We’ve been amused, bemused and unsettled in equal measure and shared an experience that few performers in the world are capable of producing.
Review and photography by Paul Maps
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