Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty just don’t care. In a good way. Taking to the stage ten minutes late, playing for barely 40 minutes and with no encore, the pair sauntered through a fairly even mix of their back catalogue on a reformation tour they’ve admitted is being carried out at least in part for money.
But nobody comes to Royal Trux gigs for their high levels of organization, right? Or predictability. Or even coherence. What you got at the Haunt (and shame on you Brighton for seeing this gig downgraded from the Concorde), after Hagerty called out to the sound desk “Hit the wind tunnel effect bro!” was a potted history that told a story not only through the songs, but they way they were played.
Herrema was the thing you glued your eyes on, a sort of whirling mum figurine with only a number of pre-programmed moves; full collapse, play recorder, make synth noise, pout, speak unintelligibly. But she was fabulous, a captivating focal point, and true to the 1990s version of herself.
Musically, Royal Trux have retained their ‘collapsed Led Zep’ sound well. Backed by a drummer and bassist, time has ravaged them harshly. But it makes their songs all the more entrancing. They play the kind of music you’d loosely describe as a jam that’s gone wrong, that spills over at the edges with some of it going on the floor. At times the band lost the audience completely – and these were the hardcore, remember – with a stage presence that reminded you of someone transported to a different age, looking baffled, peeking out at the world and trying to make sense of the newfangled things in it. But not caring at the same time.
“We love everybody who loved us!” Herrema bellowed at the end, before leaving the stage to go who knows where. Some fans had removed their shirts and were dancing despite no music actually being played. Somewhere between those two statements, you had to assume, lay the secret of Royal Trux’s appeal tonight. Catastrophic.
The Haunt, Wednesday 31st May 2017
Words by Jake Kennedy
Photos by Xavier Clarke