“Music replays the past memories, awakens our forgotten worlds and makes our minds travel.” (Michael Bassey Johnson)
Damon Smith is first and foremost a story teller. Like a minstrel of old, his lyrics create emotive vivid images, as his observations come to life through song. Having heard Damon Smith play as part of Dan Lethbridge and the Campaigners last year, I’ve been impatiently waiting for Damon and his Quality Lightweights to hit the stage. As some of the Lightweights are also Campaigners, I thought comparisons would be inevitable. However, once the set began, I was instantly absorbed in the stories and the chord driven melodic exchanges, comparisons forgotten.
I was told, (that even though they don’t rehearse or play live nearly as much as they should), the band have been together about six years, and this longevity shows. These guys play with skill and maturity, as was evident individually in their various solos, and as a group. The set was cohesive and polished and yet there’s an honesty to the songs and an ease to the performance that is completely relatable. It is this honesty and the stories Damon shares that enhance the lyrics, that engages the listeners. It’s not often that you go to a gig where every song has your attention and evokes an inward response. From, “Lines are Made for Standing in”, telling of dying, death and grieving, to the lighter, warm, and one of my favourites, “Call up Dad”, with it’s distinctive Dan Lethbridge guitar licks. But it was the more melancholy “Threadbare” with it’s great harmonies and violin that captured me.
But the song of the night was the single, “The Sun and The Moon”, a playful, whimsical song of love featured in the upcoming TV series “Under the Milky Way”. “Who am I to sit and debate, the Sun and the Moon and their fate, perhaps they’re in love”. It begins with a catchy rock n roll style beat, then violin adds a more country sound. But it’s the unexpected instrumental section, that Damon explained was influenced by his experience of a Chinese Opera during his time in Hong Kong as a child, that gives it something unique and leaves you wondering, about the sun and the moon, and, of love.
A couple more songs including the bluesy, “It’s time to let the wolves out”, and for only my second time at the Mallard, an encore is demanded. I have since had their 2011 album release, ” I Thought I’d Be Someone by Now” on repeat!
This is one band and songwriter that you simply must experience live, or at the very least, watch the TV show, “Under the Milky Way” this April, if only to hear the opening title music.
And if this single is any indication, for Damon Smith, like the lyric says, “…I’m like the sun and my rise has just begun…. “