Today I am very excited about this fantastic show from Damon Gough, aka the perpetually stocking-capped Badly Drawn Boy, at the Great American Music Hall (love it) in San Francisco from a few weeks ago. I was actually supposed to see BDB a few days prior to this show up in Boulder and I totally goofed it and went out of town that weekend instead. I felt like an absolute dolt when I remembered ex post facto, and after hearing this I am kicking myself anew.
This is a trademark extra-long, gorgeous set from a talented and multifaceted musician. If you haven’t become familiar with Badly Drawn Boy (who has this kind of childishly-odd emo moniker, but you can ignore that and just call him Damon if it makes it easier for you to give him the props he deserves) — this is your chance.
BDB music is complex and literate; finely-woven pop songs that incorporate acoustic guitar, piano, strings, harmonica, even some attempts at whistling. You may also remember that Gough also scored the film adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel About A Boy, and he includes three songs from that album in this set (including the wonderful “Silent Sigh”).
He has an impeccable ear for unforgettable melodies that get under my skin and etch themselves in my memory. They are the sort of dense, truthful songs that I could see soundtracking my life if I could play them on a loop to overlay my quotidian activities. I would feel much more meaningful with this stuff scoring my day. But as Damon sings in the bittersweet You Were Right, “songs are never quite the answer, just a soundtrack to a life that is over all too soon.”
As likely to insert a snippet of Springsteen (“Thunder Road” at the beginning of the lovely “Walk You Home Tonight”) as he is to check Journey (a perfect choice of a closing tune once the bar has closed and everyone really just wants to sing along), Gough’s musical influences traverse a wide and rich landscape.
This set is stuffed with gems and engaging conversation with Damon and the audience. Damon says that “this whole tour’s been one of the best tours I’ve ever been involved in,” and that he is dedicating his shows lately to his grandfather who passed away in March, as a celebration of his life. A celebration indeed, this is one of the loveliest shows I’ve listened to in a long time and it makes me wish I could keep my concert dates straight and not be so daft. Grrr.
BADLY DRAWN BOY
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, March 23, 2007
Time of Times
Journey from A to B
Degrees of Separation
Born in the UK (title track from his new album)
Further I Slide
Nothing’s Gonna Change Your Mind
Welcome to the Overground (instrumental)
A Minor Incident
Once Around the Block
Don’t Ask Me, I’m Only the President
This is That New Song
Above You, Below Me
What is it Now
The Way Things Used to Be
I Love You All
Without A Kiss
Walk You Home Tonight
Like a Virgin -> Silent Sigh
You Were Right
One Last Dance
I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover)
Donna and Blitzen
Don’t Stop Believing (Journey cover)
Top pic by Anders Jacobsen