concert reviews

Badly Drawn Boy at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Tuesday 6 March 2007

Damon Gough's smooth, velvety voice and lulling pop songs made a lovely soundtrack to the 2002 Hugh Grant movie "About a Boy." Unfortunately, Gough (under his moniker Badly Drawn Boy) and his bland music were not in the background but front and center for nearly 2 1/2 hours at the 9:30 club on Tuesday night.

That direct focus highlighted the generic nature of his lyrics, from the sappy songs ("Just say you'll be loving me for an eternity," from "A Journey From A to B") to the mushy ones ("I will take you as you are / Please accept me as I am," from "Above You, Below Me") to the eye-rollingly corny ones ("Love is contagious, when it's alright / Love is alright," from "Magic in the Air"). Gough's warm, tender voice and the lush instrumentation of his four-piece backing band were almost too polished.

A few songs had moments of poignancy. The casual breeziness of "The Time of Times" was enthralling, and "One Last Dance" was sentimental without being too cliched. Most of the rest blended together. In fact, when the band played an extended instrumental interlude during Gough's mid-set smoke break, it wasn't immediately apparent that he was no longer on stage.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 8 March 2007; Page C13
.: Selected discography: Born in the U.K. (Badly Drawn Boy, 2006); One Plus One Is One (Badly Drawn Boy, 2004); Have You Fed the Fish? (Badly Drawn Boy, 2004); About a Boy Soundtrack (Badly Drawn Boy, 2002); The Hour of Bewilderbeast (Badly Drawn Boy, 2000).