tumblr_luco23xyyu1qzw8l8o1_500– THE KINGS ARMS, SALFORD –

“Performance” is le mot juste tonight. To introduce the evening is the charming Rachael Dadd, with her softly-softly folk tunes delightfully embellished by foot bells, a clarinet, and an infant child strapped to her back who peeks at the crowd cute as you like. Rachael is followed onstage by her Japanese husband Ichi, whose performance is nothing short of fascinating. Ichi’s homemade instrument castle features an array of unlikely objects from hat boxes to ping pong balls to biscuit tins, all of which are carefully detached throughout the set to form musical tools in their own right. His songs are abstract and innocent, with a childlike humour evident in titles such ‘Mosquito’ and ‘Kumquat.’ Having delighted the audience with his eclectic views on life, Ichi lopes off the stage on stilts to rapturous applause.

Enter David Thomas Broughton stage left. He is a tall, awkward man who initially appears timid and unremarkable. Having witnessed him amaze the crowd at End of the Road festival in 2011, I know that this is most certainly not the case. Broughton’s voice is rich and deep in the style of Jake Thackray, with every word roundly enunciated as if he has butterflies in his mouth. The audience is stunned into breathless silence, enthralled by this boyish artist with a voice of gold.

Many of Broughton’s songs are plaintive and yearning with elements of country, folk and blues, while his acoustic strums are wholesome and understated. Broughton is also an engaging lyricist, with searching lines such as “It’s easy to forget where you came from if there’s no question of your return,” and “I’ll be the soldier that has nothing to fight, I’ll be the knife that has nothing to slice, and I’ll be the wrong that has nothing to right.” Looping is used to expert effect, swelling his sound as it reverberates through every atom in the room.

Such magnitude is softened by Broughton’s playful dramatics, which verge on mime artistry. There is a paradox here, with his serious lyrics and grandiose tenor offset by an innocent ridiculousness in his every movement. There are heavy breathing sound effects and rhythmic microphone adjustments, heads stuck in jumpers and even a little gentle thrusting. While there are two faces to Broughton’s performance there is a sense of continuity as he melds each song with the next, giving the audience no opportunity for release. When Broughton’s last note fades away, there is an eery stillness that is a fitting finale to this most unusual of nights.

Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.