It was the first show on site since the start of the pandemic
The Damn Truth and Po Lazarus breathed life into the Corona Theater on Thursday night, playing the hall’s first concert since the start of the pandemic.
The show was part of a two-night headlining at home for The Damn Truth, which is currently finishing a small stint in Quebec before embarking on a European tour in December. Hard-rock Montrealers have been heading to greater stardom for nearly a decade now, opening up for behemoths like ZZ Top, Styx and the Sheepdogs, while also getting legendary Metallica and Mötley Crüe producer Bob Rock. However, before taking the stage, folk-psychobilly rockers Po Lazarus, also from Montreal, had the pleasure of warming up the crowd.
While most of the attendees paid for their ticket to see the rock radio headliners, those who were curious to show up early to attend the Po Lazarus ensemble (which most did ) were quite surprised. Frontman Joshua Carey commanded the scene with what can only be described as menacing vulture-like enthusiasm, as he mingled his softer melancholy vocal notes with animal screams and cries.
“Right now you’re like, ‘Am I doing too much? ‘Am I doing too little?’ but no we’re having a good time and just dancing to the music, ”said Carey reflecting on her performance after their set.
Po Lazarus is really an act that’s easier to show through video than to describe on paper. The sextet packs its production with seemingly contradictory sounds; some tracks based on punk electric guitar riffs and others best described as folk ballads. However, the only consistent factor among them all is Carey’s singing style; somewhat similar to the sporadic vocal nature of the singer of the Cramps Lux Interior, or perhaps Sebastian Murphy, commander of the Viagra Boys. Through his meaningful but absurd lyrics and his sometimes mellow, sometimes yelping vocal style, Carey adds a melancholy and satirical layer that permeates the sound of Po Lazarus – an aspect necessarily anchored by the five musicians who play with him.
“I know the group behind me are the best they’ve ever been and they’re just much better musicians than me, much better people than me,” said the frontman. “And so, it just makes me lift up.” “
Carey’s phenomenal bursts of energy also met with more heartfelt moments, such as on softer ballads with violinist Mackenzie Myatt, with the two vocal functions interchangeable. These more sober but more comfortable tracks contrasted nicely with unusual psychobilly anthems like “Despair, Too”, the group’s latest single.
“It was a huge risk playing some of the slower tonight because of the people coming to see The Damn Truth,” said Carey. “You have to represent the band correctly on stage.”
The headliners then followed suit, floating burning incense around the stage ahead of their set, presumably in an effort to cleanse the air of quirk left by the opening act. The Damn Truths showed their true colors as they walked on stage, sporting flowers behind their ears and floral patterned shirts as Jefferson Airplane’s opening hymn “White Rabbit” sounded over the speakers . While the vibe of The Damn Truth screams nothing but psychedelic rock from the late ’60s, with singer Lee-la Baum’s voice often compared to that of talented Janis Joplin, their sound is a lot. heavier than anything from the flower power era.
Lead guitarist Tom Shemer delivered repeated sonic attacks via an arsenal of interchangeable guitars, quickly riffing on licks and wah-ings in front of the crowd. These harder solos, associated with Pierre-Yves Letellier’s bass playing, created a groove that made heads jump for the ride. TThese elements were merged into ultimate harmony by Baum, who delivered a catchy vocal performance through the group’s harsh blues hymns. Baum sang with a real soul, clearly bringing all of this to the many fans in the audience who had not attended a live show since April 2020.
The chemistry between Baum and Shemer was arguably the highlight of the group’s performance, as the two often liked to pull apart just inches apart and close their eyes to the center of the stage, Baum singing into the microphone and Shemer scribbling on his guitar. . At one point, the singer even fell to her knees in front of the guitarist during one of his passionate solos, eliciting an audible reaction from the audience.
These pure human moments were a healthy reminder of what music fans have lost in the wake of the pandemic. While the crowd seemed a bit more contained than usual, perhaps due to the indoor mask’s ubiquitous mandate, seeing the musicians getting hot and sweaty on stage and performing passionate physical performances was immediately refreshing. Whether you’re more of a fan of Po Lazarus’ unique approach to song-making, or you’re more into the harder radio-based rock of The Damn Truth, it doesn’t really matter. In the end, the musicians got the chance to do their thing in front of a live audience, and it’s a win for everyone involved.
Photo by Catherine Reynolds