GDFAF #3: Thomas Dolby (8/10/7)
Day three of Going Deaf For A Fortnight 2007 involved some degree of pinching my nose and ducking under. I have ranted on numerous occasions about how much I dislike the Carling Academy in Birmingham, and it probably won’t be productive to recite my arguments yet again here. Let it suffice to say that when I finally bring about the Russocalypse, that particular building will be one of the first recipients of fire-from-the-heavens. The Academy 2, its even more revolting smaller annexe, will be the bullseye on the target.
Fate works in mysterious ways, and occasionally proves helpful. I have no idea why I set out early to get to the Thomas Dolby gig on this particular night. I forget what was running through my mind. I was initially quite annoyed with myself when I got all the way into Birmingham and realised I hadn’t picked up my ticket. All the way home I went, then all the way into town again. Shortly after finally arriving at the gig, however, I was told that nothing whatsoever had happened yet. Score! Going back and forth on the bus might not be the single most exciting way to spend part of your evening, but at least I got to read my book and even without that it would have been better than standing in the Academy 2 doing nothing.
This gig was clearly where the cool kids were choosing to hang out that night. As well as the always-welcome presence of Jezmund, I got to meet Baron & Lady Baron and Ken for the first time. It was like some sort of West Midlands Blogging Crew. Yeah. You’d better watch out.
I only knew a handful of Thomas Dolby’s songs prior to this. Enough to know that I’d probably like him, but not enough to have a particularly strong idea of his cannon (I was on the verge of downloading more, but decided not to. Goodfaff is [partly] meant to be about surprises, after all). I was expecting, therefore, synth pop with the emphasis on the synth and what can be done with it; I wasn’t entirely expecting the proggy element to some songs and the funk element to quite a lot more.
Great fun, anyway. The degree of layering in his songs was fantastic, especially demonstrated in the songs where he declared he’d “build it from scratch.” It was really interesting to see how it all came together, and how songs can manage to sound somehow basic and complex at the same time.
Tommy-boy and his boxes o’ tricks were joined by a brass section part of the way through. They sounded a bit overpowering compared to everything else at times (Bad sound in the Academy 2, whodathunkit? You can’t blame the brass fellas themselves) but definitely added a lot. A lot of really lovely texture was produced between them and the multiple layers of sequenced sounds.
The man himself is a great raconteur, too. There was a funny anecdote for almost every song, ranging from Trevor Horn’s eyes bulging out to Miles Davis’ Ferrari to attempting to post “Cease And Desist” notices on Kevin Federline’s MySpace page.