It was only five months ago that Thom and his band first appeared at the Troubadour, but their show has changed a lot in that time. They included five songs from their latest CD All I Know but there were also a number of new ones, as well as three covers. The last time they were here they played late on a Sunday night and the attendance was sparse, but this time around there were a lot more people in the audience and most of them were clearly Czech as they chorused, “Ještě jedno! (One more!)” as the band left the stage after performing twelve songs in an hour.
Thom Artway comprises: Tomáš Maček a.k.a. Thom Artway on lead vocals and electric/semi-acoustic guitar; Ondřej Jurasek on electric and double bass and background vocals; Martin Kudla on keyboards, electric guitar and background vocals; Martin Hrabal on drums and percussion. Martin hits those drums hard and together with Ondřej lays down a tight bedrock for the more ethereal guitar and keyboard sounds to float over. Thom has a good vocal range and there are certainly echoes of Coldplay’s Chris Martin in his higher register – not many men can manage that. Their songs are generally short and there are no self-indulgent long instrumental solos. Lyrically, the songs are mainly about relationships and how they can go wrong. Thom introduced ‘Many Partings’ by saying, “Here’s another sad song for you guys and if you want to sleep, you can.”
The set began with Thom performing ‘Time To Think It Over’ solo, accompanied only by his very echoey electric guitar. He didn’t do any solo songs last time and another innovation was when he was joined midway through for a duet with young Czech vocalist Misha for a version of The Bee Gees’ song ‘To Love Somebody’. Thom said Misha and him met several years ago when she gave him some money when he was busking. They harmonized well – her voice was a little shaky at times, but she sounded more confident when they were joined by the band for one more song.
Before ‘High Above The Trees’, Thom coached the audience in how to sing the chorus and many of them, including this reviewer, duly did at three points in the song. For their final tune, they went unplugged with Thom on mandolin and without a microphone, Martin H. on bass drum, Martin K. on melodica and Ondřej on double bass. They also moved out onto the small dance-floor and encouraged the audience to get up and dance as they performed Paul McCartney’s ‘Dance Tonight’. Most of the audience did get up and at least shuffled and swayed around a bit while there were smiles all round. After those shouts for an encore, Thom returned alone and sang Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ and even though he forgot the words and needed a prompt from Misha, nobody cared and it was a fun way to wind down a very enjoyable evening.
Credit also goes to support from solo singer/guitarist Monty Taft, who displayed great dexterity in building up songs on the spot from samples, and also to opening four-piece Dan Coburn, who played solid original material with good guitar and keyboard solos and a strong vocalist, presumably Dan himself. Don’t forget to tell latecomers who you are, lads!
Thom Artway have two albums available – ‘Hedgehog’ (2016) and ‘All I Know’ (2018), both of which are available on Warner Music.
You can find out more on the Thom Artway Facebook page and on www.thomartway.com