Gig Review by Pete Williams with Photography by Helen Williams

Badly Drawn Boy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) released his first album, The Hour of Bewilderbeast. It proved to be his breakthrough album – it achieved critical success and won him the Mercury Music Prize, whilst catapulting firmly into the public consciousness.

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Despite a number of releases in the years since, Bewilderbeast is widely considered to be BDB’s defining album, so it was great to see him bringing it back to the stage after so long.

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As this was a special anniversary tour, there was no support. Instead we were treated to a two-part evening with the main himself. The first part was the “main event” – a full play through of Bewilderbeast. From the haunting opening chords of The Shining to an a cappella version of Epitaph to finish, it was an entrancing set. The band were only assembled 5 weeks ago but it didn’t show – the backing musicians were perfect throughout and didn’t miss a note.

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The same could not be said of BDB himself – he hasn’t played many of these songs in years and he was noticeably rusty. He used sheet music for much of the set, and resorted to squinting at the lyrics from time to time. He forgot chords and even entire songs, hence the a cappella version of Epitaph mentioned above – “I even bought the song book of my own album to teach myself, but I still couldn’t learn it.”

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However, all of these mishaps only added to the charm and intimacy of the night. BDB handled everything with a smile and a good dose of self-deprecating humour – “Don’t put yourself down Damon!” “Yeah, but I am shit though.” It was like being part of a jam session, which gave the night an unusual but very special feel.

Badly Drawn Boy

The second half of the evening consisted of a selection of the best tracks from BDB’s other albums. In general these were faster and more upbeat than the songs from Bewilderbeast, verging on rocky at times. The change of pace added another dimension to the gig and made it feel almost like getting two bands for the price of one.

Badly Drawn Boy The crowd continued to love every second, and many took to the aisles to dance and sing along. Highlights included Something to Talk About, All Possibilities and You Were Right, but really every song was a gem and went down well among the audience. Badly Drawn Boy

BDB came across as an extremely likeable man with a very real passion for his music. He seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the number of people who had come out to support him, and spent much of the night thanking people. He even spent a good while at the end of the set signing autographs and shaking hands, which was a nice touch after such an intimate gig.

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It was a great pleasure to see BDB perform again, particularly to hear his best-known album in its entirety. After being largely absent from the music scene for a number of years, it was great to hear him speculating about a possible return. I for one would love to watch him again, and I’m excited to see whether he can write an album to rival The Hour of Bewilderbeast.

Badly Drawn Boy

One Response to “Badly Drawn Boy at The Town Hall, Birmingham, UK – 25th July 2015”

  1. Darren Ashton Says:

    This was a great gig and one I felt privelaged to witness. BDB’s self-depracation and humour made it really special. He was rusty, but when he settled his playing was flawless and voice really something. It was moving to hear him say that the tour was inspiring him to reclaim the title of “best of singer songwriter, if I ever had it…”. I think he his still has it in spades.

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