Reviews

Badly Drawn Boy

Devon Powers

1 May 2001: Irving Plaza - New York.

Badly Drawn Boy

Badly Drawn Boy

City: New York
Venue: Irving Plaza
Date: 2001-05-01

You could call Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, the British indie equivalent of the Little Engine That Could. After trucking along for years with a critical cheering section, a small but loyal fan base, and an unflappable will, Damon's surge to stardom with The Hour of the Bewilderbeast likens the feel-good triumph of the underdog at the climax of a movie. It's the kind of story that ought to make his mama proud. And that self-satisfaction was omnipresent from the moment Badly Drawn Boy took the stage, accompanied by the theme from Rocky. The show he played was one of a champ who was ready to knock you out, as he took plenty of time to wow his spectators with old material, singles, and B-sides, not to mention his sharp tongue, silly props and clever gags. But he also was the Damon Gough we've come to know and love, still working a modest manner that can't help but solicit loving coos. It's as if no one has ever shared with him the aloof, faux-intimate air that most musicians affect when they're on stage. He played his elegant, keyboard-heavy numbers while sharing stories of desperation from the early days. He grounded his Gap-i-fied single, "The Shining", in its emotional roots by allowing the crowd to fawn over a picture of his five-month old daughter, Edie. He showed his frustration over flubbed lyrics, bad sound, and less-than perfect execution. He braved the region of stage beyond the lights, giving a fuck you to mores that limit audience/performer interactions to a stage-ege gropes by walking down into the welcoming sea of fans. Regardless of where you were in the arena that fit thousands, you felt one with him; and it seemed as though he he felt you, too, as a distinct, important vivid. The simple beauty of Badly Drawn Boy's set, over two and a half hours in length, showed that fame doesn't have to go to one's head. And surely, when it's deserved and diligently earned, it does just the opposite -- it goes straight to the heart.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image