London W1 Improv

Maybe this pitiful performance is a further round in [B]Gough[/B]'s death-match with the music industry, akin to confounding hapless A&R men at last year's [B]In The City[/B]...

London W1 Improv

It's an evening characterised by a frightening lack of respect. On the part of a small section of the audience. And, most tragically, on the part of the artist himself.

A minute in, the first song grinds to a messy halt, which could almost be endearing in more intimate circumstances; or if the exact same musical interruptus didn't plague most of his set. The second song is no better; another charming, if slight, acoustic ditty, which Badly Drawn Boy, aka Damon Gough, now decides he will 'improve' with cod-Franglais lyrics, before again sputtering to a limp, spent anti-climax.

With Gough's every bum note it becomes more and more obvious that he is comprehensively unqualified to be playing venues of the Improv's size, owing to his woefully, wilfully amateurish delivery. His selling out the venue is due more to his UNKLE collaboration (marked tonight by the pissy little "Oh, I see you're all UNKLE fans" remark late in the set), and that a great deal of the audience seem more concerned about being 'seen' attending a gig by this insufferably cool artist, than the four sublime EPs Gough has so far released. And this particular emperor is not so much naked as prowling the local playground exposing his member to anyone he can find.

Things gets worse. Gough is now weaving snatches of house-y anthems and Taja Sevelle's 'Love Is Contagious' into his set, still cutting songs off mid-song, as if to mask a slenderness on the music's part, or to squeeze a little more 'idiot' out of his savant. And he's making bitter little retorts at hecklers and restless audience members: "You don't have to stay y'know, you can leave if you want" (quite a few do). Fair enough. But Gough seems not to have rehearsed any of these songs, which is perhaps OK if you are the stumbling busker he resembles, but more than a little rich if you are charging punters #7 for the privilege.

Maybe this pitiful performance is a further round in Gough's death-match with the music industry, akin to confounding hapless A&R men at last year's In The City. If so, then he has miserably misjudged his target, as instead a bunch of paying fans were prissily pissed upon by an artist who, on record, is capable of a great deal and shows much promise but who, in person, is a bit of a wilful fuck-up, really.

Whatever. This small-mindedness threatens to obscure Gough's talent. He may well be flavour of the month at the moment, but if he pulls many more stunts like tonight's gig, he might find that one too many people walk away with a sour taste in their mouth.

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