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Badly Drawn Boy

Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) took to the stage of the new Bloomsbury Ballroom with a fag in his hand to much applause.  In fact, Gough was puffing away on a cigarette throughout the gig as his nervousness as a public performer clearly got the better of him.  Despite this, he entertained the crowd with honest and intimate songs performed bravely.

The small and luxurious Bloomsbury Ballroom is the product of Vince Power’s work.  The creator of the Mean Fiddler group has started afresh with this venue.  The surroundings were a far cry from the Astoria’s dingy atmosphere and the stage was almost perfect for this kind of performance.

Isobel Campbell was opener for the tea-cosy wearing singer songwriter.  She performed a set of bizarre folk music with her Scottish roots clearly coming through.  Her nervousness was quite endearing to me and it’s clear that she fully deserves her Mercury Prize nomination.  However, I’m not sure how she went down with the crowd who were used to more classical singer-songwriter style songs.

Showcasing new material from his recent record, Born in the UK, Damon informed the crowd that he would get the new ones “out of the way so you can enjoy yourselves”.  The title track from this album was a stunning opener.  Starting out softly, the song quickly grew to become an indie anthem.  Indeed, this was a surprise to me (who hadn’t heard the new album) and was representative of his new material – more sonic texture and layers and less of the more traditional sparse arrangements seen on his 2000 album The Hour of the Bewilderbeast and on his soundtrack to the About a Boy  film.   Other new songs he played included ‘Journey from A to B’, ‘Promises’ and ‘Degrees of Separation’.

In general the new songs worked well, although the biggest cheers were, as could be expected, reserved for his older material.  ‘Silent Sigh’ was warmly received, with Damon deconstructing the piano solos in a most refreshing fashion.  This is an artist who doesn’t want to rest on his laurels. And quite rightly so.

Damon’s nerves were highly strung all night.  He had problems starting some of his songs, technical issues were annoying him it seemed, and there was some idiot in the crowd winding him up and in many respects succeeding, although he did tell the crowd that, “there’s always one cunt, isn’t there?” to much applause. But what struck most about Damon was his honesty.  He was honest in his performance and in his songs.  This is a man who’s not afraid to let his feelings pour-out in song, but nervous about performing those very same songs.  These songs come from within him and are by no means put-ons.

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It was also a reminder of the beauty of his songs.  The simple lyrics display a depth which few can match in modern music and his themes of love, relationships and romance are as complex as anything by the more famous singer-songwriters.  Badly Drawn Boy charmed the entire crowd with his performance in an intimate setting.  Much like his music, there were no bells and whistles, no lame-rock pleas for the crowd to get involved, no theatrics.  Just a refreshingly honest man on stage bravely performing songs that come from deep within.

. But what struck most about Damon was his honesty.  He was honest in his performance and in his songs.  This is a man who’s not afraid to let his feelings pour-out in song, but nervous about performing those very same songs.  These songs come from within him and are by no means put-ons.

It was also a reminder of the beauty of his songs.  The simple lyrics display a depth which few can match in modern music and his themes of love, relationships and romance are as complex as anything by the more famous singer-songwriters.  Badly Drawn Boy charmed the entire crowd with his performance in an intimate setting.  Much like his music, there were no bells and whistles, no lame-rock pleas for the crowd to get involved, no theatrics.  Just a refreshingly honest man on stage bravely performing songs that come from deep within.

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