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Concert Review: Badly Drawn Boy with Adem

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Most of the reviews of Badly Drawn Boy’s latest album, One plus One is One have been pretty mediocre, at least relative to his other albums , but I can assure you that those reviews are wrong. Indeed, if one rushed to review this album, as I suspect many reviewers did, one might come to the conclusion that it was not as good, perhaps as some of his previous work.

The more one listens, however, the better One plus One is One gets. Most popular music ages like a citizen in Brave New World, suddenly dying while still enjoying superficial beauty, BDB’s latest stuff is more like a good wine or perhaps an obscure cheese that gains both flavor and distinction with age.

I was thus quite happy when Damon Gaugh, (aka Badly Drawn Boy) announced that he and his band were going to actually ‘play’ the latest album like a concert instead of the traditional intermingling of old and new music.

BDB brought with him a talented troupe, including a flautist, a cellist and a violinist to better replicate the listening experience of the album. Sadly absent was the British children’s choir, but given the logistics of hauling them across the pond, this reviewer is willing to forgive Mr. Gaugh for his decision to omit them.

The show, in Lawrence’s Liberty Hall, was both comfortable and satisfying, especially for the well-acquainted listener. The first half of BDB’s set, devoted entirely to his recent album, was predictable, but nonetheless enjoyable. Particularly entertaining from the first half were the tracks “Another Devil Dies”(Listen) and “Holy Grail”(Listen). Also touching was his dedication to the late Elliott Smith.

I had always recognized that Gaugh was a brilliant musician, but I clearly didn’t appreciate the extent of this. When listening to BDB’s music live, one really is overwhelmed with his ability to make the simple so beautiful. I was most impressed with his work on the keyboard, not necessarily for pure technical prowess, but rather simply because he made that keyboard do beautiful things.

The second half of the show was equally good, if not better than the first. Opening with the sweet strings of “Shining”(Listen), BDB worked his way through almost all of his hits before an enthusiastic crowd, performing for his penultimate number an ad-libbed tour-diary turned indirect political treatise turned band introduction, though perhaps not specifically in that order. BDB played for nearly 3 hours, a fact that I believe was surprising to most of the audience, certainly to me. The time just flew by.

Adding to the excellence of the concert was the opening band, a British quartet called Adem. Promoting their new album, Homesongs. Though not everyone had filtered in, Adem amazed pretty much everyone present. I heard many people declaring them the best opening band they had ever heard, and I would honestly be hard pressed to disagree with them. Their music oozed with feeling and power, taking advantage of both the creation and the absence of noise in order to express themselves.

Their music is somewhat hard to describe, but if you can imagine old-timey Appalachian 4 part harmonies meeting Coldplay, then deciding to add the kinds of instruments you used to play with in music class or you might pick up from some eccentric musician’s garage sale, you’d be kind of close. Head over to Amazon and give them a listen, you’ll not be disappointed.

Overall, a fan of Badly Drawn Boy, or for that matter, good melodic music, could hardly be displeased with the show. Four hours of interesting live music for the price of a pizza? You’d be a fool not to make that deal.

Here’s a listing of upcoming shows.

+ minneapolis – pantages (wed 20th) – buy tickets ++ chicago – vic theatre (thurs 21th) – buy tickets ++ st louis – pageant (fri 22th) – buy tickets ++ tulsa – cains ballroom (sat 23rd) – buy tickets ++ austin – la zona rosa (mon 25th) – buy tickets ++ houston – meridien (tues 26th) – buy tickets ++ dallas – gypsy tea room (wed 27th) – buy tickets +november….+ atlanta – roxy (fri 12th) – buy tickets ++ asheville – orange peel (sat 13th) – buy tickets ++ carborro – cats craddle (sun 14th) – buy tickets ++ knoxville – blue cats (mon 15th) – buy tickets ++ dc – 930 (wed 17th) – buy tickets ++ philadelphia – tla (thur 18th) – buy tickets ++ boston – avalon (fri 19th) – buy tickets ++ new york – town hall (sat 20th) – buy tickets ++ portland – big easy (tues 23rd) – buy tickets ++ montreal – club soda (wed 24th) – buy tickets ++ toronto – phoenix (fri 26th) – buy tickets ++ detroit – st andrews hall (sat 27th) – buy tickets ++ columbus – newport music hall (mon 29th) – buy tickets ++ louisville – headliners (tues 30th) – buy tickets +

love it, hate it, there’s more of it at Pacetown.

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