After this gig, I congratulated the folk singer and asked him, “is your forte making your audience feel uncomfortable,” and his response bluntly was, “I know nought else.” This I hope has you intrigued, and thus you should, as it had nuances of interaction, obliquity and as with all David Thomas Broughton gigs, reverence.
With a set too improvised for me to be able to give insight, taken mostly from the new collaborative record, Sliding the Same Way, Broughton played with the all-female, Juice Vocal Ensemble, stimulating wantonly our senses, with more than your average gig’s visual stimulants.
Inhaling the atmosphere at this show is not easy with the timbre, deep voice of Broughton, his movement around the room, lacking in fluidity, which sees him almost frenetically switch instruments and props, recording and looping whilst the whole uncomfortable process is unravelling.
Anna, Kerry and Sarah also capture the audience’s attention during this performance, whilst they create percussion sounds with their vocal microphones in Kings Place. It does not stop there, as they pull our eyes from Broughton, all trying to aimlessly stretch and fit various sections of each other in his hooded jumper. The most obtuse, however, which also perked up my awareness was whilst they were walking amidst us mere observers, vocally combing from various parts of the room, adding to the discomfort of this gig.
Obviously playing tracks such as The Promise and The Assurance, with the recent album release, we are not expecting an easy ride through this set, awaiting the unease and prangs of discomposure. With vocals that are embedded with pathos, grave in comparison with the likes of Anthony Hegarty (made famous for his work with Hercules and Lovc Affair and also on Bjork’s Volta album, and obviously for Anthony & the Johnsons), disconcerting lyrics and a triad of women wandering from chair to chair in amidst the audience, we are not set up to enjoy this one.
This collaboration, however, does raise a smile at moments, adding to Broughton’s relentless soundscape at times; Juice’s input includes the lowering and heightening of microphones, not only for height adjustment but sound percussion. Notably overriding these nicer moments is the distinct sense of disquiet which the fragmented soundscapes, darkened poetry and surreptitious vocalists all push us towards. This blatant feeling which Broughton defecates from absurdity or gawkiness should be acknowledged, as he at least forces his audience to fluster in delight.