David Thomas Broughton and The Wave PicturesEdit this event
Blinking reluctantly into the scrap yard dank that spreads, tomb-like, over Elephant & Castle station, you’d better be sure you’re onto a winner if you’re going to catch a gig round these parts. Happily we’ve got high hopes for this one.
As it turns out, our hopes are founded, though for completely different reasons than expected – it’s Wave Pictures we’ve come to see, a prolific London three-piece whose smartly-assembled indie nuggets have been turning heads of late, but who in the end serve only as an adequate aperitif to the magnificently outré five-course banquet that is David Thomas Broughton's set.
Wave Pictures do have a few things going for them, however – namely, the short, lyrical bursts frontman Dave Tattersall coaxes from his guitar that bring to mind a staccato Neil Young, and a flair for well-rounded pop with a literate edge. ‘Now You Are Pregnant’ combines the swoonsome chord-changes of Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’ with The Magnetic Fields’ dreamy air of bowl haircuts and idealistic sex, while their best effort ‘Long Island’ is slinkily snake-hipped Americana with a satisfyingly spazzy lyric: “You should know I’m the real Slim Shady / and lady you’re my natural home”.
When they’re less-than-brilliant, however, they’re really rather dull; workmanlike pop that makes me think depressingly of indie makeweights along the lines of Spoon.
Leeds-based folkie David Thomas Broughton, on the other hand, has magic to spare, lost in the disquieting quiet of a metafolk reverie, an utterly unique live act that’s equal parts avant-folk vanguardist Richard Youngs and Buster Keaton. The music’s weird enough, for sure; a bewildering mix of feather-fingered guitar picking, fracturing loops and birdsong tape samples that dazzle the ear as they confound the eye – Broughton frequently turns his back on the audience or obscures his mouth so you’re not sure what he’s actually contributing to the song.
But it’s the physical comedy routine Broughton injects into his repertoire that really sets off his spidery, at times sketchy compositions, forging chaos from order from chaos with a string of wildly inappropriate gestures. Whether yawning through his own lyrics, improvising cheesy blues licks, repeatedly fumbling with his guitar and mic stand, Broughton’s assorted tics and pratfalls are an idiot echo of the music itself, details which at first seem incidental later being revealed as charged with sombre intent.
Just when we’re in danger of taking him too seriously, he pulls the rug from under us. ”What is it makes this apple pie taste so good?” he intones in his formal tenor, his face the picture of quizzical sincerity. “‘It’s the sugar, it’s the sugar,’ she says, in her condescending way.” Laugh-out-loud stuff, but there’s something about Broughton’s music that stays with you long after the smiles have faded.
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