By/Photo Credit Ann Treacy
There was a Vegas-style start to the first set at the Turf Club Friday night: cymbals building anticipation, lights, drummer and keyboardist both with unusual scarf-masks and Thomas Abban who ripped off a Phantom-like mask and began with “Death Song”, a heavy metal ballad off of his recent release A Sheik’s Legacy. Not what I was expecting. I had some high expectations for Thomas Abban; they were exceeded.
Abban is young, 21 years old. He wore a long black jacket with embroidery and had three black streaks painted around the bottom of his eye – like half of a star. He’s not large, and looks like The Little Prince – the title character of the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, not Minneapolis Prince – although you could draw some favorable comparisons there too.
Abban’s voice has a fragility that makes him seem vulnerable. Fragile like crystal, fragile because it’s rare and so clear. Yet it’s his guitar that takes center stage, whether it’s the classic rock-style guitar solo or a percussionist approach to playing. His hands fly across the guitar, playing both hands at the top of the neck, beating the body like a drum or bending its strings. His intensity is palpable. He is absolutely in control and doesn’t even seem to break a sweat.
The funny thing about Abban is that he is reminiscent of many musicians but still completely his own in part because he dips into many genres and in part because he takes them all to the next level. From the heavy metal ballad (“Death Song”) to the alt-folk, almost pop sensibility of “Irene”, the Celtic start to “Echo” to the Southern sound of “Black Water”. It’s hard to put Abban into a music box, and frankly there is no reason to, except to set expectations – which I’m sure he will surpass.
See Thomas Abban next at First Ave’s Best New Bands 2017 show on 1/5/18