Sunday, 21 January 2018

Edgar Broughton

19th January 2018

Backstage at The Green Hotel, Kinross

Back in the days of vinyl albums and album sleeves, a number of record labels would, I recall, advertise their other releases on the inner sleeves (or dust jackets).  Atlantic Records were one, but the most memorable items were those produced by the EMI subsidiary Harvest Records.  For all manner of obscure, and rather intriguing looking album covers could be found therein – releases from acts like Bakerloo, Quatermass, Pete Brown & Piblokto....and The Edgar Broughton Band.  This last named looked a real bunch of scary hairies, and I frequently would ponder what manner of sounds lurked behind the album covers of Wasa Wasa, Oora and the like.

I never really found out until fairly recently (Thanks, Spotify), for, back in the day, musical exploration generally meant borrowing from mates (none of whom had any EBB albums), or going the whole hog and shelling out a fortune (or what felt like one at the time) for what was a stab in the dark.

I did see The Edgar Broughton Band supporting Gillan sometime in the early Eighties, but can recall now shamefully little of their performance – other than hair.  Lots of it.

Backstage at The Green Hotel, Kinross.

So, in celebration (sort of) of the fact, almost forty years on, that both Edgar and myself are both still alive and kicking as it were, I decided to open my 2018 gig schedule with, as the poster attests, A Rare Acoustic Show, by the man himself.

These days (not surprisingly, as he recently turned 70) there is rather less hair going on, but Edgar has retained a mane of wiry white locks down the back – an affectation which, rather than looking silly at it often does, gives him the air of an elder statesman of Rock 'n' Roll.  Which I suppose is exactly what he is. 

Edgar's voice is, indeed I think always has been, a bit of an acquired taste.  Generally he utilises a gruff Jack Bruce/Don Van Vliet growl, but he will occasionally step out of his/our  comfort zone and emit a higher pitched howl, which whilst undoubtedly adding a unique aspect to his performance could to the uninitiated, I imagine, appear a just a tiny bit challenging.

There were perhaps 30-40 of us in The Green Hotel this evening including, down the front, a clod who clearly regarded himself as Edgar's Number One North-of-the-Border fan.  He whooped and hollerred at the performer's arrival on stage, and was first to enthusiastically applaud the completion of each song.  Nothing wrong with that of course.  

He did receive a mild ticking-off for attempting to clap along during one of the early songs in the set, before during Soldiers Of The Light, totally unselfconsciously taking out his mobile to make or take a call, bellowing over the singer in the process.

A clearly pissed-off Edgar professionally carried on until the end of the song before informing the half-wit:

“That's not good enough.  Do that again and I will take that fucking phone and smash it to pieces”.  I could have stood up and cheered.

The incident could easily have soured the evening, but not a bit of it for Edgar immediately carried on with a magical rendition of Six White Horses – his guitar work on this one worth the admission money alone.

Other high points were There's a Hole In It and one of his self-confessed rare love songs Almost Dancing.

Between tunes Edgar entertained us with a series of lengthy and witty reminiscences from his half-century on the stage – none more surreal than the gig where Mick Farren keeled over and died on stage a few years back.  Edgar had been sharing the bill with Farren's band The Deviants, and even as the medics were attempting to thump Farren's heart back to life, Edgar was being covertly asked he wished to join the band.  The song The Sound Won't Come related this incident.

Edgar Broughton - Kinross January 2018

A most enjoyable evening in the company of a quite remarkable, and regretfully unsung, performer.  And I was astonished to note by the end of, what had appeared a short set, an hour and a half had sped by.  Always a good sign.

I further learned this evening the correct pronunciation of Broughton.  From a Scots tongue perspective I had always thought the name to be pronounced as in Lawton, but had heard folks use “Brow Ton” and even “Broo-Ton”.  But was inordinately pleased to hear Edgar pronounce it as I had always done.

Set list

Arabesque/Speak Down Wires
On The News
The Good Old Days
Hotel Room
Soldiers of the Light
Six White Horses
This England
My Salvation
The Sound Don't Come
Almost Dancing
Ice on Fire (abridged)
Green Lights
Evening Over Rooftops
There's a Hole in It


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