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With a sound that took in dust-bowl Americana, the blues, elements of drone rock, ambient noise making and middle-eastern sounding themes and ideas, True Strays offered a series of unexpected musical adventures in their Guildhall debut.
Drummer and vocalist Matt Cooke, Joe James on bass and vocals, James Cameron on lead vocals and guitars, and James Graham on keyboard and vocals, blended pin-sharp harmonies with blues overtones and an open-minded approach to moods and sounds.
Their repertoire largely consisted of their own original material, with choice songs by the likes of Muddy Waters and Lead Belly.
With a set that ranged from the acoustic bluegrass opener Daisy to Can’t Be Satisfied by Muddy Waters – featuring a rare piano solo from James Graham – this was action packed music with plenty of vigour, musical skill and a hard-working rhythm section.
Roll On was an electrified wail of a song with plenty of opportunity for audience participation, while Heal The Haunting featured a Led Zeppelin-style rock riff and plenty of energy.
Other numbers included a slow burning gospel version of the traditional favourite Railroad Worksong, with some lively singing from the audience, and a rock and roll reading of the love song Oh Darling and the lively dance-rhythms of Once I was A Boy.
All in all, a great night of live and exciting new musical ideas and sounds from a band that has already given much, but with plenty more ideas and youthful swagger to develop.