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Peter Broderick - Bush Hall, London 22/10/2014

27 October 2014, 15:30 | Written by

Seven years ago, I saw a gentleman named Peter Broderick perform a opening set in Bush Hall, a fin-de-siecle former dance hall situated in the cultural no-mans-land of West London. I had never heard of him before, and in truth I initially intended to give him a miss (2007 was the zenith/nadir of the high-Mumfordian madness that briefly gripped the capital, and there was a dangerously high chance of any given support act unveiling a banjo). He was a revelation. True, he was still in the infancy of his career and his songwriting wasn't quite as fully-formed as it would later be, but the eclecticism of his set and impressive multi-instrumental talents (including guitar, violin, musical saw and a violently-swung length of plastic tubing) marked him out as a talent to keep an eye on.

Skip forward to 2014, and I'm watching the same gentleman in the same be-stuccoed venue. The years have seen Broderick grow in confidence and evolve his musical style, but his easy-going charm remains as present as ever. He's now acquired a band, in slightly peculiar circumstances involving a mutual love affair with a Swiss gig venue, and the musical saw, alas, appears to have been consigned to history (although happily so have his attempts at rapping). His new material with his co-musicians, written and recorded in a very short time frame have an energetic, if slightly derivative alt-country edge, but there's still room for moments of restraint and uncommon beauty.

A particularly memorable moment comes halfway through the set, with the title track from his new EP "Colours of The Night." Instead of relying on pre-recorded backing tracks, or plumping for the "stripped-down acoustic" option, he replicates the song's evocative chanted harmonies by picking on random audience members to sing the refrain into a microphone, and then looping them to produce an impressive choral effect. (Thankfully for all concerned, this reviewer wasn't selected to contribute, or this review would be getting issued from The Hague.) Whilst crowd participation at gigs can often seem forced or awkward, especially given the natural reticence of Londoners, it worked beautifully in this instance and added real warmness and character to proceedings.

Other highlights include another jaunt off stage to make use of the venue's grand piano and, rounding the evening off perfectly, a breathtaking unamplified rendition of perhaps his most beautiful composition, "Sideline". Whilst many of the acts I recall fondly from my early days of gig-going have long since disbanded or are pale shadows of their former selves, Peter Broderick remains an engaging, innovative and highly underrated performer, and one, I hope, I'll still be enjoying in another seven years time.

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