Thursday, January 22, 2009

Come inside where it's okay

Last evening’s Calmer* was rather special I thought. Individually and as a trio, three somewhat different, compelling yet engaging performers offered an earnest and beautiful crowd of hepcats plenty of challenging and engaging fare. A brace of New Yorkers graced the famed Slak Bar stage with poise and energy. Sam Amidon’s haunting voice and delicate banjo-playin’ proved fine bedfellows and I appreciated his evocative renditions of American folk tunes interspersed unconventionally with extended Henry James quotations with accompanying unusual facial contortions and freaky and clumsy dance routines. Thomas Bartlett, who is also known as Doveman, tenderly tickled the ivories and sang with a touching resonance. The fellow’s percussive skills were bright too. His plaintive rendition of Big Star’s Thirteen proved a soaring highlight. The token Englishman, Otley-born but London-based David Thomas Broughton, spent most of the evening supporting his cohorts, idiosyncratically proffering clicking noises, backing vocals whilst sat in the body of the audience and a white-noise accompaniment via an old analogue television set of the portable variety. I would describe his solo set as gripping. Dark, deep and wonderfully earthy extended vocalisations permeated proceedings backed by loops and guitaring. Broughton’s stage presence, a quirky, twitching existence, was an edgy experience and his intense, vaguely aggressive aspect was fascinating. I must salute Calmer*. The erstwhile band of dudes that curates these evenings continues to provide great value for those who seek new and witty aural experiences.

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