Thursday 30 March 2023

25 years of Badly Drawn Boy

Last nights Badly Drawn Boy show in the wonderful setting of Saint Lukes was an absolute treat.

Badly Drawn Boy (AKA Damon Gough) is touring to celebrate 25-years of releasing music. His first 2 albums as Badly Drawn Boy were on constant rotation when Lynn and I started dating, so we snapped up tickets as soon as they came on sale. A chance to celebrate 22-years since we started going out!

We usually like to venture upstairs in Saint Lukes to get a good view of everything, however after meeting friends for a drink in the bar, all the good spaces were snapped up. However we could look down and see some space right at the front. So that's where we ventured.

Armed with drinks, we managed to squeeze through the crowds that always hang back to be in the second row and there was a decent amount of space. 

We caught the end of Craig John Davidson who had been asked to support. Craig ended with a lovely story of him buying Have You Fed The Fish? in an Aberdeen record shop as a 15 year old because of the cover. Davidson fell for Badly Drawn Boy and was inspired to start playing guitar. A lovely story and Davidson's set was well received.

As we waited on the main act, my friend Joe pointed out there were no drums onstage. There were a couple of keyboards, an acoustic and an electric guitar.

Badly Drawn Boy came on stage at 8.30pm promptly, not looking to dissimilar to the first time I saw him back at the QMU in Glasgow many years ago. This time it was fresh orange that he was swigging, rather than a bottle of Jack Daniels.

A bottle of water and a Rubix Cube (that sadly remained untouched through the gig) sat on a small table next to the main mic.

Gough started strumming his guitar and introduced his first song Shake The Rollercoaster. We didn't miss a drummer, we didn't miss a band. For almost 2-hours were were under the spell of Badly Drawn Boy. 

I imagined that this was Damon's version of Springsteen's Broadway residency. Stories were told, songs were sung, any resemblance of a setlist was abandoned as requests were rewarded and Gough told us how the Glasgow audience always made him feel at home.

Damon had the audience laughing at many of his stories, while others had us wondering if we had something in our eyes. This Song was written for, and dedicated to, a friend that went missing, never to return. The set ended with a beautiful piano rendition of Someday by The Strokes, dedicated to Damon's older brother Simon who sadly died 18-months ago. 

Most of the set saw Damon at the centre of the stage armed only with his trusty acoustic guitar. The melodies and grooves he created were gorgeous. Occasionally a loop pedal was used to sublime effect. 

Highlights? Well, the whole set was tremendous. And I'm sure Damon could have played another hour or two. The fact that you could have heard a pin drop throughout was testament to how engaged the audience were. 

But a few for me were;

The Shining, Gough beautifully picking and strumming his guitar, his naturally melancholic voice singing warm sun, warm sun, warm sun over and over again was simply gorgeous.

A wander over to one of the keyboards/electronic pianos had Damon starting and then stopping Have You Fed The Fish? before the audience encouraged him to keep going. 

It's one of my favourite Badly Drawn Boy songs. I love the mundane lines I need a new eiderdown, I want some binoculars balanced against the philosophical hook (beautifully sung by the audience last night);

sometimes you've got to, rewind to go forward

there's some, good times, around the corner

And then back to the day-to-day life but have you fed the fish today? 

Stories of going to Matador Records office in New York, seeing posters around Manchester with his name (but were they only up on the route he walked?), missing a couple of Peel sessions he was asked to play, and having All Possibilities used in a Comet advert were brilliant.

Pissing In The Wind tugged on heartstrings, the audience gently backed Damon on the stunning chorus.

Just give me something

I'll take nothing

Silent Sigh was a big song for me and my wife Lynn when we started going out. The way Gough plays the piano makes it look like he can create melodies out of thin air. Maybe he can. There was certainly evidence on display last night to indicate that he can!

You Were Right was vintage BDB; funny, flowing, a tinge of sadness, pop culture references, stunning melodies and the beautiful question do the colours of the rainbow look the same to everyone?

And there were more stories of loved ones that were lost; Caroline Aherne, who Gough got to know through soundtracking The Fattest Man In Britain and Tony Wilson who Damon wrote Tony Wilson Said about on his last album.

The soundtrack totally passed me by and I've been listening to it today. And do you know what? I think Badly Drawn Boy can create beautiful heart warming melodies from thin air.

Magic was in the air last night. I do hope that Damon might return to Glasgow for another show. After all, he did say he had worked up 80 songs in advance of the tour. 

No comments: