Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) played to a sold out audience on Friday night at Lincoln Hall. The gig sold out weeks in advance, which I attributed to the rather quaint size of the venue (500 people), but to my surprise probably had as much to do with the fact that the main floor was equipped with chairs. I was stunned upon entry as the show was not advertised as a seated event. In my previous 15 visits (whoa, I like Lincoln Hall and their booking) there this year, all had been general admission standing room only shows. Perhaps this was Gough’s choice and truthfully it was in no way a detriment.
Gough played unaccompanied for the first twelve songs and only then on the 13th song of the night did he play the first song of the set from It’s What I’m Thinking Pt.1. (released October 2010) He was joined by a guitarist and occasional help on percussion and bass the remainder of the gig, but claimed the rest of the band couldn’t afford to make the trip to the U.S.
Gough, as always, sported his trademark knit hat (the 2nd design of his career) and seemed to struggle with the (too favorable?) acoustics of Lincoln Hall. He said he felt like he was in a studio and later described the sound as dry. Gough is very much a storyteller and talks frequently between songs. He noted it is sometimes hard for the audience to discern when he is trying to be funny or serious in his banter. In describing the song ‘I’ll Carry On’ from his soundtrack for a UK TV film (The Fattest Man In Britain) a song with a serious subject matter, a woman cackled loudly and this seemed to really mess with Gough and he agitatedly told her to in so many words (using British slang) to Fuck off. This coupled with Gough’s difficulty adjusting to the venue’s sound appeared to be an ominous setting, but fortunately BDB got grounded and played a wonderfully enjoyable set.
This was my 6th time seeing him and one of the best. BDB has attained a strange arc and impressive variety in Chicago venues he has played. (in order: Schubas, Metro, Park West, The Vic, Metro again, Lincoln Hall)
The encore on Friday opened with a medley of ‘Like A Virgin/Silent Sigh.’ [Attached below is a YouTube video I found from the show which isn’t much visually, but has quality audio.] Then achieving the rare back-to-back Madonna references, Gough played ‘You Were Right,’ a song he described as being about wanting to go back and re-meet people again for the first time (in his case his partner).
Finally Gough, who has been open in his adulation of Bruce Springsteen dating back to his 2003 Park West show, ended the night with a bizarre performance art rendition of ‘Thunder Road,’ during which he sang a cappella over his own prerecorded cover version. He even pulled up a chair to the edge of the stage and invited a woman in the front row (who was filming him) to get in the video, at which point he kissed her on the head. An altogether strange finish to an uneven, but entertaining set by Badly Drawn Boy.
BDB – 12/10/10
1. Don’t Go Far (new/unreleased)
2. I Can’t Make It Anymore (Richie Havens cover)
3. I’ll Carry On
4. Is There Nothing We Could Do ?
5. Easy Love
6. The Further I Slide
7. The Shining
8. This Song
9. Don’t Ask Me I’m Only The President
10. A Minor Incident
11. Journey From A To B
12. Once Around The Block
13. What Tomorrow Brings
14. It’s What I’m Thinking
15. I Saw You Walk Away
16. This Electric
17. Too Many Miracles
18. Walk You Home Tonight
19. Cause A Rockslide
20. Like A Virgin/Silent Sigh
21. You Were Right
22. Thunder Road
Another video from the show with decent audio. ‘I Saw You Walk Away’