Tom Milsom is better known to some as YouTube user ‘hexachordal’, or maybe even ‘that guy who was in Sons of Admirals.’ It’s a difficult label to shake and one that he’s acquired almost unfairly, because Milsom is very different than the average ‘YouTube musician.’ People with webcams and guitars – or, in this case, ukuleles – are a dime a dozen online but Milsom manages to gain some form of legitimacy others are missing.
Maybe it’s the extensive discography or maybe it’s the fact that he seems to be able to play any instrument that he lays his hands on, but Milsom deserves to be taken seriously as a musician – as demonstrated at the Dublin Castle last night (9 July). Stood on a tiny stage with an electric ukulele and assortment of pedals, Milsom seemed to revel in the small, intimate setting and the disproportionately sparse crowd (and ‘crowd’ may be more than a slight overstatement).
Playing a support slot for Reventure, an electronic/hardcore band from Winchester, meant that Milsom was only able to play a handful of songs – and yet he still delivered. Mournful lyrics sit alongside jaunty tunes and the atmosphere is nothing short of good-natured – clearly both parties are enjoying themselves immensely.
‘Indigo’ was a particular highlight, with the song taking on new emotional depths in a live setting – contemplative and consistently solid. The song is, according to Milsom’s bandcamp website, “a love song written from the point of view of an emotionally-induced synaesthete (person with synaesthesia), who sees the colour indigo when feeling love.” And therein lies Milsom’s strengths; take ‘Catsongs I (Livia rembered)’, for example, which looks back on the life of a friend’s cat and compares it to notable popes – an odd choice of subject and his music is all the better for it.
‘Cherub’ is another stand-out, from Milsom’s recent ‘Explorers 6’ album – there’s a sense of poignancy and character difficult to miss. And yet none of the songs hit hard but rather sink into the collective consciousness. From synaesthesia to dead cats, Milsom has a lot of stories to tell. And he tells them well.