Peter Broderick – Cube Microplex, Bristol – 22 October 2010

Ten great gigs from 2010: #1

Photo by Hanne Hvattum

Some of the most memorable gigs derive a big part of their character from the venue as well as the artist, and Peter Broderick’s show at the small, cooperative cinema was a perfect example of this in action.

Broderick is known for his self-control, always keeping his musical arrangements simple, and the support acts were much the same. The relaxed, personable atmosphere of the room meant that he could sit in the crowd and look on while local debutants Olan Mill’s soundscapes seamlessly mixed acoustic instruments with glistening effects, before his friend Tsukimono improvised on a prepared piano.

The stage lights buzzed annoyingly through their sets, leading Broderick to reject them altogether. Reluctant to play with them switched on, he performed in the semi-darkness of a single, small lamp nabbed from the lighting desk (presumably the lighting tech wouldn’t be needing it anymore).

Broderick’s performance never settled into a single style – both his Bella Union folk (Home highlight ‘With the Notes in my Ears’) and neoclassicism (the Yann Tiersen-tinted ‘Pulling the Rain’) were on show – and he kept interest alive by switching between guitar and piano, violin and musical saw in quick succession, often looping them with an effects pedal.

During the opening song, ‘Sideline’, Broderick interrupted the stilling a cappella opening to whisper – “Come on in” – to a couple of latecomers, resuming only once everybody was sitting comfortably. In some quieter gigs, the interruption would give rise to tutting and finger wagging, but here, the community ethos of the setting corresponded perfectly to Broderick’s mood.

Broderick had been eager to return to the venue of a successful support set here a couple of years ago, and his headline set was a triumph. With any luck, he and The Cube will be able to continue their (bella) union at a later date.

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