David Thomas Broughton gig - 24/01/09

2017 January 31
by ghostnote101

davidthomasbroughton

Experimental folk artist, David Thomas Broughton, delivered an electronic masterpiece performance last weekend. Lucy Lovell was there, in this most unusual choice of music venue.

The taxi driver looks at us blankly.

“St. Margret’s Church?”

He has obviously never heard of the place, and I wonder if this gig was something I dreamt up in my head. 

“Its on Whalley Road…I think.”

“Ok…”

I can see his expression in the mirror, and it doesn’t fill me with confidence. Hesitantly, he pulls away, and takes us to a quiet part of southern Manchester. We eventually discover a peaceful, and somewhat decaying church sat on the corner. I’m still unsure; I don’t really want to get out of the taxi, let alone pay him. But as we get out and walk down the overgrown path, to my relief, I can hear bass creeping through the wooden doorway.

St Margret’s, normally a peaceful place of worship, has been temporarily renovated with a bar, about 200 twenty-somethings, and a line up of experimental/ambient/folk performers.

The set opens with New York based Sam Amidon, whose roots American folk singing is juxtaposed by the ambient technological noise played by Thomas Bartlett. A beautiful combination, if slightly surreal. I sit with a beer, watching Amidon stand and sing hymns (ironically?) in a pitch-perfect American drawl. A sizeable crucifix hangs from the arched ceiling above. Is this blasphemous? I wonder what the Rev would make of it.

Doveman is next to take the pulpit, a band consisting of…hmm…Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett, only this is Thomas’ time to shine.  Unfortunately, his lyrics begin to grate on me: open your set by singing about ‘lovers in honey’ and I’m back at the bar. I will not dispute however that in terms of melody and electronics, Bartlett is a musical genius. He controls his keyboard like a third arm, and just has one of those faces: he clearly knows things about music that would induce hallucinations if recited to me.

David Thomas Broughton starts slowly. Lit up red and yellow, and casting shadows up the stone church walls, he begins to play fragments of songs. I hear the first line of ‘Ambiguity’ before he gets restless and plays something else. He layers spontaneous riffs on a loop pedal before standing up, letting his guitar crash to the floor, and proceeds to hit the mic stand with a stick.

Loops of noise are still playing as he paces back and forth, returning to his amp where he crouches, producing the most ear-piercing feedback. This he loops too, leaving it to reverberate around the room, as his deep and calming lyrics rise over chaotic noise. He calls Thomas Bartlett to the front for back-up on the piano, and together they improvise progressions that compliment the distorted noise behind them. David leaves the mic stand and weaves through the crowd, some sat on pews, some on the floor, singing as he walks. As he passes me, I can’t believe such a powerful voice could come out of this gentle-looking man. He runs back to the stage and starts playing the drum kit next to the piano. You can see he’s lost in the music now; the melancholy is transformed into all out performance as he shouts:

“Shit! God damn!

Get off your ass and Jam!”

…Over and over. The whole audience is laughing and grooving. Broughton calls up Sam Amidon who commences, not to pick up an instrument, but to perform press-ups in the aisles. Not something you expect from a folk singer, but he receives a well-earned applause from the crowd. Meanwhile Broughton is exploring the church and finds his was up to the sermon stand. Singing across the piano and feedback, he preaches his songs over the audience while looking pensively at the bible.

This gig was by far the most impulsive and inspiring I have witnessed. The choral aspects of Broughton’s singing played off the church setting beautifully, and to see both the support and headliner combining so flawlessly was incredible. I urge anyone to see these acts. Pure talent shone through; a totally organic show where songs progressed naturally from one to the next. The venue for this was literally a blessing, one of the only times I have enjoyed sitting through church.

Lucy Lovell

One Response leave one →
  1. 2017 March 12

    I love your taxi blog and had to comment, all the best.

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