This was back in the day and as I travel to the venue I reflect on this memory and wonder to myself if two years, many, many gigs, tours of America, Europe and Japan and meteoric success
have made the live beast any less of an evil for our BOY?
I arrive at the venue a little late (well it is a Monday). Expecting to see a half full hall humoring the support band I am shocked to find BDB and band in full swing. I check my watch to make sure it hasn't stopped. Shit. What's going on? It's only 9.10pm and it feels like the show is in full flow.
At the end of the first track I catch "River, Sea, Ocean" Damon announces "that's the end of the first set, cheers, see you in a bit". I consult the nearest friendly looking student who informs me I have just missed the first set which started at 8.30. Bollocks, no one told me about this, I check my ticket it says "Badly Drawn Boy + Special Guests" oh well. I scratch my head at the bar and wonder what's happened to the support. JD and coke please
10 minutes later, I have managed to wriggle my way right into the middle of a packed hall and I'm hanging around waiting for the second set. The lights dim and unsuspected to everyone present Peter Kay the stand up comedian/TV writer-actor slopes over to the microphone. Beams of joy shine across every face in the audience as they collectively realize a) they are in for a pure comedy treat and b) that the comedy treat is an unexpected freebee.
Working a student audience is like cutting butter for any comedian worth his salt and Peter rapid fires the crowd with quick, light and tickly-funny one liner's. Within this short period of time the crowd seem to have forgotten who they came to see and seem perfectly content to stand and enjoy a funny man on the top of his game for the rest of his evening. Peter probably knows this and with respect to his old mate from Bolton he says his goodbyes leaving the crowd in great spirits ready for the second set.
The man in the hat returns. The sound on the evening is great. The vocals are clear as a bell, warm and rich in tone and have the boom of a now ( through 2 years hard singing) flawless baritone. The band are tight and dynamic, wholly locked in on Damon as he takes the mood and volume of each song up and down to best suite the lyric and subject. "This next song is a suicide note from a pregnant mother to her unborn child" he announces. People are enjoying the spectacle of a great songwriter on a roll coupled with the free Peter Kay taster but while they are in the presence of BDB it is almost impossible to ignore the air of seriousness emanating from the stage. He takes his work to heart and that's why it is so bloody good.
Although, it's not all furrowed brows. "This is my favorite song off the new record. I am really proud of it and it's called How?" As with most performing artist on tour. You tend to see faces light up when they are playing songs they want to not the ones the audience want.
We were treated to a beautiful rendition of How followed by current single "You were right" and other outstanding new album material such as "The further I slide" and "Bedside story" cut and pasted against old classics.
To further lighten the spirit of the night BDB opened the final song by picking out a girl in the audience and singing the song to her. Included in the lyrics were sentences such as "you there in the white, yer you with the boyfriend on your arm, come to Badly Drawn Boy, I need you, I have always loved you, my life is cold without you." This amused the audience. The build up was great and the crescendo came in the shape of "Pissing in the wind" the roof was raised and the night was complete.