Tom Hatred & The Angry Band and David Thomas BroughtonEdit this event
As anyone who has experienced his live show will understand, David Thomas Broughton is no ordinary singer-songwriter. Tonight he headlines Fleeting Fanfares II, a mini-festival at the Cross Kings, an excellent little bohemian music-pub in Kings Cross.
Sets from Tom Hatred and The Mules are both highly enjoyable, though my mind is already well distracted in anticipation of the final act. Having not seen Broughton before, I’m unsure what to expect – reviews describe him as ranging from a tongue-in-cheek performance artist to something altogether more sorrowful, verging on desolate. In truth he is both, and much more at once.
It's tricky to describe this show. On the one hand it's decidedly surreal – a tiny handheld television is continuously tuned (up pops Adrian Chiles on_ Match of the Day 2_) and untuned, providing a backdrop of dissonance; at one point a sort of bizarre Tamagotchi is produced from a pocket, which Broughton 'plays' in the style of a classic guitar solo up against unsuspecting audience members; later on, he wanders to the back of the room, picks up a book, turns to page one, and sings what he reads. And yet despite all of this Broughton appears almost forlorn, forever treading the line of the sad clown. I can't be the only person there who doesn't know whether to laugh or cry – a feeling not helped by Broughton's impressive ability to keep a straight face throughout.
No review of David Thomas Broughton should go without at least some mention of his voice. If forced to apply a reductionist tag then I'd say it’s somewhere between Antony and Elvis (via Leeds), but really it has to be heard to be believed. Quite how such a remarkable voice emanates from such an unassuming looking figure remains a mystery.
Above all else, the music is superb. Broughton's masterful use of the loop pedal constantly builds delicate cacophonies of sound before wiping the whole slate clean with a pick of the guitar, and starting it all over again. Fragments of songs role into one another, and in the hour-long performance he doesn't once stop long enough to allow a round of applause.
If this all sounds rather pretentious, then that's down to poor communication skills on my part. There was nothing pretentious about this at all. Hilarious, harrowing, inspired, yes. Contrived, no. Quite something, basically.
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