The Damn Truth/Pink Lemonade -
The Waterfront Studio, Norwich, Tuesday 18th October, 2022
Set List: Wannabe (cover)/First Date/Space Girl/Break Up Song Get Over You/Rewind/t’s Not Me It’s You/Melt My Heart/Sugar And Spice.
Let’s get straight to the point: Pink Lemonade are a Punk Pop band fronted by sisters, Maddie and Frankie. Frankie hits her drums with enthusiasm and gusto as well as singing. Maddie occupies centre stage on guitar and vocals. They are clearly the focal point of the group.
They are flanked by Ben on bass and James’s lead guitar, who apart from offering the required instrumentation do little to add to the visual experience. What I mean is they just play. They do not really perform, allowing the girls the freedom to shine.
I have known this group since they were at high school, when they went under the name of 'Ben Say Alright!' When they play in bars and pubs the lack of interaction from the lads is Okay, largely because of the lack of space, but here on a larger stage they really need to reach out and acknowledge the crowd.
The odd hand movement/gesture, a bit of eye contact with those watching would not go a miss. Instead, they are quite statuesque in their performance. That would be fine if Frankie’s drum position was closer to the front and off centre as she becomes difficult to see behind Maddie. Ben and James could then play their roles from further back on the stage as the girls could really dominate centre stage.
The show itself began with 'Wannabe', a Spice Girls cover, which took those in attendance by surprise! The songs that followed were all originals.. Their punky pop creating and generating plenty of smiles from the audience who were awaiting the headliners.
I spoke to many of them after the show and all of them said that it was fun, but not quite what they expected. They said the girls really looked like they were enjoying it and they played with infectious enthusiasm. There was no mention of Ben or James.
I think songs like ‘First Date’ and ‘Break Up Song’ have a vibe that could connect well especially with a younger audience but perhaps a slight rethink on stage positioning would benefit them enormously.
Most importantly the audience reaction was positive and like Maddie and Frankie was full of smiles.
Set List: This Is Where We are Now/Full On You/Too Late/Pirates & Politicians/Broken Blues/Lonely/ Only Love/Look Innocent/The Fire/Kinda Awkward/Get With You/Tomorrow.
Encore: Love Is Blindness/Heart Is Cold.
The difference between the openers and the headliners could not have been greater as The Damn Truth took to the stage. Singer, Lee la Baum, has been likened to a love child between Janis Joplin and Robert Plant!
As she and the band took to the stage to Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ it was obvious that The Damn Truth were the real deal. They swayed and swaggered in retro psychedelic fashion, even before they broke into their first song it was obvious these Canadians were not going to disappoint.
They have the image, the moves and the songs and it was going to be one hell of a night for retro sixties blues fans. Tom Shemer (Lead Guitar/Vocals), danced and looked like a rock god, as he played some mesmerising lead. At one point late in the show, he left the stage for a crowd walkabout and nearly smashed me in the head with his guitar! I should have been more aware but was mesmerised by Lee, as she wriggled and writhed on stage! Such was I lost in this moment I simply didn’t know he had left the stage!
PY Letellier (Bass/Vocals) was somewhat more static, got together with the guitarist to throw some great shapes. At times with the exception of Dave Traina (Drums/Vocals), Lee, PY and Tom were locked together as they performed in magnetic unison. I have got ahead of myself here!
Opener, ‘This Is Who We Are Now’, immediately got us up and running and dancing. It was clear we were in for a treat and that is the damn truth! All the players appeared on top form as they gestured and engaged with the crowd, it felt spontaneous, like they like us, were just in the moment as we were engulfed in the moment and transported back in time to the likes of The Doors, Joplin, Hendrix and plenty more.
The only limitation on the brilliance of the evening was the relatively low attendance, but that made it feel more intimate, more special for those of us that were present. As song after song was played you realised you were seeing a band that are exploding and happening.
‘Broken Blues’ was superb throughout where there is plenty of light, shade and soul. At one point Lee dropped to her knees bobbing in front of Tom. Was this another example of her oral magic? Her guitar playing was great as well!
Quite simply, the whole show was magic. Canada has provided us with some great bands from Rush to Neil Young via Leonard Cohen. They have gifted us another, do not miss these! To recap; they have the fire, the melody, the harmonies, the licks, the rhythm and the power, not to mention the image and the looks.
Next time they appear anywhere near you do yourself a favour and go! You won’t regret it! Firmly on the menu is Retro Rock, Psychedelic Blues & Soul! That’s The Truth, The Damn Truth!
Review By Paul 'Rhino' Mace
Photographs By Paul 'Animal' Hampson