Last night was a first for me, seeing Trail of the Dead live .. and sometimes good things come to those who wait . Its only recently T.O.D grabbed my attention, like so many other good things in life inc art and music. This band from Austin Texas had been pretty much off my radar, even though they’ve been around for the last 20 years or so. I had heard about their wild and energetic performances and knew that they were on tour performing their 1999 album Madonna in its entirety along with a few other band/fan favourites . Coming to know the album late I wondered if they would be up to the mark. I wasn’t disappointed.
The gig was sold out but being a rain sodden Tuesday winters evening, people tended to arrive at the venue in bits and bobs, which was a shame as they would have missed out on the two impressive support acts by way of openers from All Ears Avow from jolly Swindon (the home turf of Gilbert O Sulivan, XTC and Meat Beat Manifesto ) and London based Spoilers
All Ears Avow
Throughout both sets the trickle of folk arriving amounted to a full house by the time Trail of Dead came on stage. It took only a short while before band and audience were in the zone and on a roll, somewhere between “Mistakes and Regrets” and “Totally Natural”. And so it went, new comers like myself who were just getting into the music on the fly and those folk who knew the back catalogue of Trail Of Dead back to front following and mining out every vocal line . The sound was intense and authentic, it didn’t feel like some kind of backward looking nostalgia trip, rather after 20yrs the sound of the album had gained something from all those years of gigging . Maybe they should release a live version album taken from this tour , I for one would certainly like that.
The bonus of seeing this band live is also to witness the switching between frontman Conrad Keely and Jason Reece . These two respectively swap roles several times through out the evening. With lesser bands such changes over would result in a diminished version of the band but this is an essential dynamic component of the band and so with Jason on Guitar and vocals with Keely on drums the music is still great . On either side on the wings keeping all that power and energy intact and tight are bassist Autry Fulbright II and guitarist Jamie Miller .
Autry Fulbright II
As I understand it Trail of the Dead are a band that have had their fare share of ups and downs over the years , pigeon holed as alt rockers or whatever the market values along with fruitless flurries into gaining wider commercial appeal can take its toll on a bunch of folk just trying to do their thing, sometimes that gets lost along the way .
Returning to a former work doesn’t feel like a regressive move, more like a return to ones core because it still has validity and if you missed it them on their rise the first time round (like me ) its never too late to catch up with them now .
Jason Reece & Jamie Miller