David Thomas and Two Pale Boys bring third dimension of Ubu Projex to NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 04/12/2007 - 01:03.

 David Thomas with Two Pale Boys

Over the past year, NEO-rooted, UK-based avant-garage phenomenon David Thomas brought to the Beachland Ballroom, in Cleveland, Ohio, three of his globally- acclaimed Ubu Projex artistic forces - Rocket from the Tombs, Pere Ubu, and, last night, Two Pale Boys (2pbs). It is impossible to overstate the creative genius of David Thomas and his various collaborators, which was best expressed by 2pbs, to a small group of friends, in an intimate performance of some of the world's most extraordinary music, in a gungy Cleveland neighborhood bar.

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys

Over the past 20+ years, I've seen Rocket From The Tombs twice - awesome - and Pere Ubu many times - life-altering - but this was my first time seeing Two Pale Boys. I didn't know what to expect, and was blown away. A write-up for the concert on billions.com well describes the experience: "David Thomas and the two pale boys generate strange and beautiful new shapes, rolling stories, and sonic panoramas out of spontaneous deconstructions created with brass, guitar and electronics. The simple seesawing of a melodeon gives way to cascading electronica and expressionistic soundscapes-- sometimes pulsating and abrasive, sometimes mysterious and exploratory. Through it all is woven the mordant wit of one of the most distinctive and charismatic singers in modern music, Pere Ubu founder David Thomas."

 David Thomas and Two Pale Boys

The 2pbs trio is David Thomas, with his unique, haunting vocals, Andy Diagram, merging trumpets & electronics like I've never heard before, and Keith Moliné on masterful guitar. As strange as that combo may sound, the innovative expressions were hypnotic. Beyond creating awesome music, David Thomas and his collaborators - in all forms - have an interpersonal dynamic that is inspiring and creates a unique relationship with the audience I have not found through other performers - it is a shared experience.

 David Thomas and Two Pale Boys

That is especially remarkable considering the many forms of Ubu Projex, with many changing line-ups, as they travel the world performing much of the year, going on a third decade. Thomas is the most extraordinary performer ever to surface from our region, that I have experienced, and he is to be celebrated for always including Cleveland in his US tours (as well as collaborating with area musicians and recording at local studios, despite living in England). This 2pbs show was the only such performance in America, coming as a unique event for Cleveland at the end of a Pere Ubu tour in other parts of the country. We are special - did you realize that?

When I arrived at the Beachland for the 2pbs show and realized it was in the smaller tavern space, I knew this was a rare opportunity. The crowd was small but intimate - not the usual concert experience but more a private party - friends and family met-up and strangers made new friends - certainly, most people there were long-standing Ubu fans. That the crowd was small clearly didn't bother Thomas or 2pbs - they know they are exceptional and are very comfortable living and working their way, for those who appreciate that. For the first time in quite a while, as a result of a concert I plan to go out and buy a CD - 18 MONKEY'S ON A DEAD MAN'S CHEST by David Thomas and Two Pale Boys.

David Thomas


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