Badly Drawn Boy / Jane Weaver : Manchester Night&Day
A strange mix of ego and bumbling Boltonian vulnerability - precious entertainment...More on
But first, Jane Weaver, and her dazzling, doleful pop songs. The [a]Doves[/a] whirr ‘n’ click of ‘Like An Aspen Leaf’, the ghostly ‘Why Don’t You Smile?’ which flourishes into a [a]Bruce Springsteen[/a]-on-oestrogen epic and the killer ‘Ridiculous’ - boasting Johnny Marr-style heartbreaking chord changes, topped with swooping cello - will all enrich your life. Search them out.
Some time later, Badly Drawn Boy walks on stage reading a magazine (cover: Hugh Grant), and declares, "I’m determined not to make this a funny show". Then, he accuses a heckler of having fishy knickers, quotes Peter Kay and explains how he’s just got back from putting his kids to bed. Only Damon Gough - a strange mix of ego and bumbling Boltonian vulnerability - would have the temerity to do this. That is, take the piss (out of himself), reframe ‘the gig’, be so [I]un[/I]rock ‘n’ roll. Perhaps it will only ever truly work in smaller venues, where passing fans don’t demand consummate professionalism for their money. But tonight - as he meanders through fragments of a 35-song set list with the battered Everyman poignancy of Billy Bragg, as much as [a][/a] - it still feels special, unpredictable and totally honest. Two new songs, ‘All Eyes On You’ and ‘What Is It Now?’, sound like future classics. The only sour note in this house-party atmosphere is hearing Gough slagging off former Twisted Nerve heroes [a][/a], over some business/ writing-credits wrangle which would be better kept private.
Of course it’s chaotic, with peaks and troughs, and dead-endings and stops ‘n’ starts, but how’s about we stop debating that, eh? It’s simple: if you want neatness and order and CD-quality recreations of your favourite songs, don’t go and see Badly Drawn Boy play live. But believe us, you’ll miss out. This is precious entertainment.
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