Live Reviews

Badly Drawn Boy – Stoller Hall, Manchester: Live Review

Something To Tour About celebrates 25 Years of Badly Drawn Boy; one of the UK’s finest ever songwriters.

The acoustically-brilliant Stoller Hall in Manchester is the venue of choice for Damon Gough’s (aka Badly Drawn Boy) of-sorts homecoming; and like other venues selected for this milestone tour, it’s an intimate setting for both artist and audience.

Support on the night is provided by Liam Frost, a 6”2″ Mancunian socialist (according to his Instagram account), who works through a great set. Liam has been around for many a year both locally and beyond. He is the perfect foil for Badly Drawn Boy. Acoustic guitar based indie music, with some harmonica, violin” and Manchester-based banter thrown in, provide a brilliant warm-up.

Just after 9:00 Badly Drawn Boy, in trademark hat, takes to the stage. He passes a woolly representation of himself sat on the keyboard, and seems genuinely taken aback to see the capacity crowd – including his family – give such a warm response.

As it’s a 25 year celebration, we start at the beginning, with lesser-well-known Shake The Rollercoaster, but it isn’t long before the crowd favourites – including All Possibilities, Born In The U.K, Something to Talk About and Once Around the Block – are rolled out. The latter two subject to a little disdain from Damon’s intros of them (not that it showed in the performances).

Although now in his 50’s, and on a milestone anniversary tour, Damon is far from ready for the knacker’s yard yet, as those who have listened to his latest album, 2020s Banana Skin Shoes, can attest (our review here). Songs from this album, including Appletree Boulevard, hold up just as well as the Mercury Prize winning The Hour of Bewilderbeast crowd-pleasers and Damon clearly loves to perform them.

It wouldn’t be a Badly Drawn Boy gig without a few rambles and anecdotes. We are treated to plenty: his career highlight being a Comet advert, Ed Sheeran’s fastest leg in the world, Marvin Gaye’s estate, Bob Dylan songs being too expensive for About A Boy. Obviously many stories are about Manchester, with his family roots here and love of the place clear.

On a number of occasions Damon claims that he’s going to run out of time, and there’s every chance he was making up – or tweaking – the setlist as he went along. Not that there was any complaints.

Although there was plenty of laughs, there was a few tears too, as Damon paid tribute to Tony Wilson and Caroline Aherne – Mancunians lost too soon. The final song of the night is a cover of The Strokes Someday. The song is dedicated to Damon’s brother Simon, who the family lost only 18 months ago, and who helped to get Damon ‘into music’.

After taking his bows, Damon shakes the hands of most (if not all) of the fans in the front row, before making his unassuming exit, bringing to a close a great show. And a worthy showcase of his quarter of a century in the music industry.

Here’s to the next 25 years.

All photography by Steven Boon.

Take a listen to, and watch the brilliant Disillusion video from Badly Drawn Boy below. A truly brilliant song.

Badly Drawn Boy: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Liam Frost: Official Website / Instagram

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