Live music review: Badly Drawn Boy at Live At St Luke’s, Cork

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4/5

If prizes were awarded for between-song chat, Damon Gough would have a shelf full to go with his Mercury Prize for his 2000 debut album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. Ranging from endearingly humble to charmingly cocky, the artist known as Badly Drawn Boy was also surprisingly confessional, particularly when touching upon his disappearance from the limelight in recent years, which coincided with the breakup of his marriage.

It has been four years since his last recorded work and Gough eased himself back into the fray a little gingerly. Marking his first live appearance in Cork, Gough shuffled on stage in his trademark tea cosy hat and conveyed his satisfaction to be playing here a week out from Christmas. It was expected his three Irish dates would sell out, yet he still expressed surprise at this.

“It still baffles me why I get nervous,” he confided. “As good as I am I still get nervous.”

In a set divided into sections played on acoustic guitar, electric guitar and keyboards, Gough shared some fascinating insights about many of the songs.

An acknowledgment of the breakdown of his marriage was followed by the announcement that not only has he a new fiancée, but also has a baby due in May, as well as the promise of a new album.

His choice then of ‘All Possibilities’, with its reference to “seeing the world through the eyes of somebody new” felt deliberate.

‘Something to Talk About’, from the About a Boy soundtrack was introduced as the song that earned him more royalties than anything else he wrote. Revealing that he basically knocked the song out in 10 minutes, he pretty much tossed it out on the night, opting to play a deconstructed version of a tune that probably accounted for the presence of many of those in the audience.

Early hit single ‘Once Around the Block’ was treated with more love. With his voice sounding more forceful he found new ways to wring more colour from its shimmering groove.

The opening strains of ‘Silent Sigh’ drew enthusiastic applause, and before departing he reiterated his appreciation. There certainly was magic in the air.


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