The Robin has a great record of attracting people who are regarded as musical legends. Over the last year or two we’ve had Peter Green, Steve Cropper, and Jack Bruce to name but three – and when I saw Edgar Broughton’s name appear on the schedule I was quick to get my name down. While he may not have quite the household name stature of certain other performers, his influence on modern music is great and undeniable – and on top of that, he’s a man whose clear political stance I deeply respect (quoting his blog strapline “I lean to the left, aiming to do what is right”). Oh, and of course, he is a son of the Midlands – hailing as he does from just a few junctions down the M6.
If you’ve never seen Edgar Broughton perform live then you’re really missing a treat, he really is one of a kind. This is the first time I’ve seen him playing acoustically without his band, and I’ll admit I was expecting to not enjoy it as much as the full-on Broughton electric-fest – he’s one of my favourite guitarists, and the sounds he can wring from an electric guitar are incredible. But what’s wonderful about him performing acoustically is that with the guitar stepping back slightly, it gives one of rock music’s most individual and striking voices the room it truly deserves.
And what a voice. From operatic power to delicate whispers, crystal highs to cracked lows – from time to time I found myself totally losing myself in it, riding around the Robin 2 on Edgar Broughton’s magic carpet vocals. Bliss.
Highlights of the set for me included the sublime ‘The Christmas Song’ with its improvised language-free verses (a song which really does leave both listener and performer in a better place than where it finds them), and ‘Red Star’ – a song written following the Brixton riots of 1981, sadly as appropriate today as it was then.
Edgar’s between song stories are also captivating, he has the gravitas and air of a classic troubadour and sets the scene perfectly for each song, like a stage hand seamlessly moving the set into place.
‘Six White Horses’ is another highlight, a beautiful song of love and devotion that sails around the room. ‘Hole In It’ is a different beast, a great protest song which exhibits Edgar’s social and political leanings – written after an enforced conversation with an old Jehovah’s Witness on a flight to Germany, and concerning the twisted philosophies and politics of modern believers in the Rapture (those who believe they’ll only get to Heaven after things on Earth have gotten a whole lot worse, so they do their utmost to contribute to the world’s woes in order to speed up the process. Mr Bush, we’re looking at you).
The encore of the Edgar Broughton Band classic ‘Evening Over Rooftops’ is rapturously received, and we all leave the Robin 2 in a far better place than when we entered it.
Paul Broome @ Midlandsrocks