I once heard Zakk Wylde ( with Nick Catanese) play a stripped down acoustic version of the BLS hit “Stillborn” and this memory kept haunting me as I watched Paul Saxby play at The Hob Staines. Yeah, OK, the string-work doesn’t quite compare, but you really get the feeling that these two rock hounds share the same experiences of anguish and despair. And they seem to share a secret desire to just get up off the stool and belt the hell out of a song – preferably with a huge and thunderous backline.
Moping about in the low chords- “Why Can’t We Just Get Along?” Because we’re programmed to function- sings Paul and you know where his heart is at. This song can be seen as mournful but it also chugs along with a ‘proper’ rock riff and shrugs its shoulders at any folk aspirations. And Paul’s big number is ‘Social Casualty’ – a buzzingly busy beat-pop song with a catchy and memorable chorus that makes the most of the time it spends in your head by burning deep into your synapses.
The good looking and cheerful Staines crowd also loved the excellent howling cover of “Seven Nation Army”. And whilst we are on the subject of the ‘White Stripes’ it is worth mentioning that Paul pays more than a passing resemblance to Mr Jack White.
Sometimes an array of vocal effects tends to hide the size and character of shiny supple voiced Paul, but nevertheless the results are often moving, always interesting, never corrupted. Paul uses his expressive voice to interrogate social ideas and his voice has an appealing edge against the contrasting tonal sounds picked up by his acoustic guitar. Climaxes are often fought over and cried for, a sense of audacity pervades every movement and composition. The performance was neatly concluded with a respectable version of the first success story in the ‘folk rock’ annals, “The House of the Rising Sun.”
Paul Saxby is a versatile and an uncommonly appealing singer of songs. Highly recommended.