On the evening of August 13th a little oasis was created right in the busy heart of London’s West End.
Inside St. Giles in the Fields Church, the noise of all the cars, commuters, and party-goers are inaudible to the crowd of around 150 people all huddled together as they wait for Peter Broderick to make his appearance. Laid out on the stage were a guitar, a bass, a violin, a piano, four mics, and about half a dozen loop stations. So Peter’s touring with a band? No, he entered the stage alone. Initially he acts as his own roadie: testing the microphones and tuning his violin. Seated right at the front, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to stare at him or whether I’m supposed to pretend he isn’t there at all. At 9:15 sharp, right on schedule, Broderick approached one of the microphones. “I’m sorry to start when so many of you are still in the queue for the toilet but don’t worry. These first few songs are for you as well.” He’s considerate, to say the least.
His first song wasn’t one of his own. It’s a cover, but it has Peter Broderick’s style written all over it. He starts on the violin, looping different melodies every four bars. He does the same with his guitar, and within no time the church was echoing with sound. No band needed. The same goes for his own subsequent songs, “Not At Home” and “Colours of the Night.”
Broderick’s whole performance hung in this balance between melancholy and humorous. The songs have a predominantly sad tint to them, yet he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. He took the liberty to address the audience in various amusing ways, often while he plays. “I had the most ridiculous thought when I was playing that song just now. I think it’s my only song that could be classified as sexy, but it’s impossible to look sexy playing this casio keyboard.” Oh, Peter.
There were a few minor technical malfunctions during the show too, but he easily shrugged them off with ease. “Chris has been doing the sound here tonight everybody, and he’s doing a great job.” We all applaud. “But seriously dude, turn the fucking microphone on.” We all laugh. Everything feels so spontaneous. Broderick seemed to possess a peculiar talent of being in the zone and out of it at the same time.
On the whole, the concert had an intimacy I rarely experience. Broderick’s connection with the audience felt very genuine. One of the songs he dedicated to a man named Xavier, who has apparently been present at every one of his shows in London ever since he began touring. He also let the audience choose which song they would like to hear for his encore.
For my own sake as a fan (and perhaps his sake as an artist), I hope he will always retain this level of fame. I would hate to see his performances loose that level of intimacy, and only with a crowd this size in a space like St Giles Church can it be made possible. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy big spectacles and massive music festivals as much as the next person. Still, in this age of social media, paparazzi, and humongous televised talent contests in which one-hit wonders are hyped up beyond belief and then dropped without a moment’s notice, such a tangible and intimate performance felt like a breath of fresh air.
Peter Broderick’s performance flew by, and I can only hope that the time between this concert and the next will fly too.