If such a place were ordinarily festooned in fairy lights and had a public bar running along the entire length of one of its walls, this evening the main room in the Crescent Community Venue assumes the identity of Damon & Naomi’s front parlour such is the warm welcome and intimacy their music here affords.
Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, to give the duo their full names, are partners in life and musical creativity. It may be nearly thirty years since the band’s dissolution but the couple are forever associated with their relatively brief time with those much revered avant-popsters Galaxie 500 for whom they played their respective drums and bass and shared songwriting duties. This point is perhaps emphasised by the fact that tonight’s gig is advertised as Damon & Naomi (Galaxie 500) for fear that anyone may not otherwise know who the hell they are.
The gig forms part of a short five date trek round the UK which ties in with Damon Krukowski’s book tour. He has just arrived here from Italy where he has been talking about his new book Ways of Hearing which takes its lead from John Berger’s 1972 book on visual culture, Ways of Seeing and whereby Krukowski – something of an authority on digital music and streaming – “offers readers a set of tools for critical listening in the age”.
Given the above it may therefore appear somewhat strange to hear Krukowski speaking dryly of their being “in the vanguard of the CD revival”. The paradox is clearly not lost on them as we peruse the array of compact discs that adorn the merch table at the back of the room which confirm both the longevity and extent of their recording career as a duo.
Damon & Naomi’s first such release was More Sad Hits way back in 1992, its title indicating the prevalence of melancholy often attributed to their music. But here tonight the ten songs that they perform are elevated above any feelings of abject sorrow into something that is far more uplifting and ultimately quite transcendental.
‘Judah and the Maccabees’ and ‘New York City’ may both stare resolutely into the couple’s past but not through a lens of yearning or regret. The stripped-back version of ‘What She Brings’ feels similarly positive and the inclusion of Galaxie 500’s ‘Another Day’ – apparently never performed by them before – is a complete and utterly delightful surprise as Damon and Naomi’s voices dovetail together in perfect union.
They finish with a song that was recorded for 30 Century Man, the 2006 documentary film about Scott Walker but which on this evidence here tonight alone somewhat inexplicably never made it onto the final soundtrack. Their interpretation of the great man’s ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ captures all the equivocation of the original whilst also highlighting its gentle warmth, an overwhelming feeling that characterises the entire evening.
Another fabulous promotion from that good guy at Please Please You
Photos: Simon Godley
A few more photos from this show are HERE