The Ruby Lounge, Manchester 24/02/2010
By Joss Worthington
David Thomas Broughton quietly takes the stage at the Ruby Lounge aided only by an acoustic guitar and gently begins strumming. The majority of the Wednesday night Ruby Lounge crowd are initially not even aware that the PA has stopped and the performance has begun. Making use of some kind of looping device, he leaves the opening guitar phrase hanging in the air whilst he develops the arrangement over the top.
It’s a fairly nifty technique that is becoming fairly standard live practice these days by everyone from Andrew Bird to The Ting Tings, but David Thomas Broughton appears to be keen to take it to another level. Throughout the half hour set by the Leeds born, London based artist, we witness him create every sound imaginable from just about anything he can lay his hands on. His songs develop in a spontaneous and abstract form, often out of eerily repeated vocalisations or strange tapping rhythms on his acoustic guitar.
In the later stages of his set he even manages to incorporate the sound of a scarf being dragged across a microphone as well as the noise of him scratching his beard.
This unusual sonic palette serve as the backdrop to Broughton’s dark yet wry kitchen sink narratives. His voice sounds like that of a distant Yorkshire cousin of Anthony Hegarty telling tales of woe and insufficiency. The minimalist, intense and somewhat sombre atmosphere he creates are akin to early Smog records.
Looking around at the audience reaction is interesting. Some of the audience members seem bemused, whilst others are transfixed. He definitely polarises a crowd, hell, he might even be the kind of artist that might attract the odd heckler, too
As shouts of “You’re a joke!” come from the back of the room, it initially appears that the natives are getting restless, however, as audience members turn around in astonishment, the shouts develop in a more musical fashion into a doo-wop style chant.
The supposedly angry mob is revealed to be members of headlining act Shearwater who are clearly in on the joke. To the tune of ‘Duke Of Earl’, they continue their off stage refrain of “You’re a joke” whilst Broughton discards his acoustic guitar and closes the show recasting himself as a fifties style crooner that time forgot.