Badly Drawn Boy Live in Sheffield

The pint-sized beanie-clad wonder may be as ubiquitous a festival fitting as the noodle stalls, but on his own stage he blew us away beyond any doubts, with a stunning and refreshingly ego-free live performance...

[r-zone1]Liam and Noel’s live shows had a definite edge about them a few years ago. Gallagher Jr. would stare menacingly at the first few rows before launching into his trademark whine and simian swagger, characteristics that have come to define one of the few genuine rebels in an era of sanitized, saccharine ‘pop’ music.

After being party to Damon Gough’s latest performance, I’m beginning to think that Mancunians may have a common genetic disposition. One that maintains a constant stream of creative, anti-establishment personas – need I list other examples?

The comparison is confirmed as Badly Drawn Boy brings 40 days 40 fights to a brief standstill and removes his over-sized parka, commenting, “Something’s wrong here. It’s too much like Oasis.” Still unhappy with his appearance, BDB then remarks, “Now I look gay….like Coldplay,” He promises an evening of memorable fun and the improvised, audacious nature of the show ensures that this is delivered.

The criticisms that plagued his early EP days can be laid to rest. Musically, he now has three albums of class material to plunder but paradoxically he risks the loss of audience interest by premier-ing a new song and relying heavily on newer material. Yet, charismatic asides and heckler baiting fill in the gaps before classics such as Shining and Disillusion remind us why BDB has achieved A-list Indie status.

[l-zone2]Damon has a nonchalant but assured presence on stage, braving a lengthy, instrumental interlude so that he can light up and relax for a few moments, as cigarette break notices are projected upon the obligatory screens. He adores direct communication and interaction with YOU – the punters. From Keyboard Matt’s on-stage birthday celebrations to chastising a yawping student for being, “a fucking knob rash,” BDB remains the epitome of laconic cool, reveling in confrontation and defying expectation. At least several hundred shouts of ‘Pissing in the Wind’ pierce the air as a response to Damon’s request offer. A pause. And then – another, slightly unfamiliar new tune begins as the tormented fans realize how the bearded bloke in the stupid hat has had the last laugh once again.

It’s all about leaving the ego in the dressing room and being unafraid to take risks. BDB takes this attitude to biblical proportions and in the latter half of the show demands, whilst singing in the photographer’s pit, that the audience part from front to the back of this student union hall. When he is eventually satisfied with the three-foot wide corridor, a light is requested (still singing) and a spellbound girl is identified as Anna. The subsequent lyrics detail a love for this palindrome girl much to the captivated crowd’s delight.

[r-zone3]The introduction of You Were Right on record name checks icons such as Lennon and Marley but live also includes S Club 7, Darius and Boyzone. It is Badly Drawn Boy’s dissatisfaction with many of today’s artists that motivate him to perform the way he does and tonight he ably showed off the facets of performance that cannot be taught in any ‘academy’.  

Badly Drawn Boy’s tour continues nationwide until 11th December.