- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

Badly Drawn Boy wants to come off as a laid-back, likable bloke whose live shows are, as he calls them, a holiday.

He very nearly does it. The British indie/folk rock balladeer’s two-hour set Wednesday night at the packed 9:30 Club emanated informality. The twentysomething crowd imagined they were in an English pub and not destined for the suit-and-tie grind come morning.

But for all his beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking and perpetual beanie-wearing, Damon Gough — aka Badly Drawn Boy — can’t hide the fact that he’s a mercurial tyrant who will throw a fit if his music isn’t perfect.

Thank God. It makes for a great show.

Mr. Gough’s tantrums, in which he cursed at sound technicians, mocked the District for having only one major concert venue and stopped twice in mid-song to start over, only made a night of outstanding music more interesting.

As he’s done throughout his current tour, Mr. Gough played all the songs from his new album, “One Plus One is One.” It’s his third major release in addition to recording the soundtrack for the 2002 Hugh Grant film, “About a Boy.”

Backed by a full band (including a cellist, violinist and flutist), Mr. Gough moved painstakingly through the album, which in contrast to his earlier releases is less concerned with romantic love, and places more emphasis on sustaining friendship and love through life’s challenges. He has said he was influenced during the recording process by the death of a friend.

Mr. Gough was intent on re-creating each song just as it sounds on the LP; including the studio-produced background noise.

After the break, he relaxed, drank and sang songs from his previous albums, rambling extensively between tunes about his children, his girlfriend and about meeting his idol, Bruce Springsteen.

Mr. Gough believes in the emotional power of art. The 35-year old songwriter, who talks often about what happens to us after we die, could relax only after doing his best to make sure his audience considered the full impact of his latest release.

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