Beatbox extraordinaire Beardyman performed a Thursday night set at Lancaster University with only his voice, a mic, and six laptops accompanying him on stage.
The gig at The Nuffield Theatre failed to draw a huge crowd, with, I’m led to believe, very few students present and most people making the trip up from town.
The impressive multi-purpose gig venue - something we’re still seriously lacking in the city centre - was less than half full, and the sound didn’t seem to carry too far back, resulting in a slightly empty, lacklustre experience.
Renowned for his ability to create full on electronic music using just his voice, some samples, a loop system and some large speakers, Beardyman’s talent is unquestionable, but he didn’t really deliver the goods on this occasion, for me at least.
He seemed disengaged, like a robot that had forgotten its purpose, and there was more than a whiff of self absorbtion emenating from the collection of atoms he describes himself as.
Whether he’s trying to appeal exclusively to twentysomethings is unclear, but what little engagement there was with the audience came across as childish, contrived, and to be honest a bit stupid.
His brief fits of dancing whenever a beat dropped failed to ignite much response within the crowd, although there were some very unusual and unique dance displays going on at the back of the room which was good to see and was mostly more interesting than what was happening on stage.
When he finally let loose the drum n’ bass he’d been promising, it was, well, just some drum n’ bass.
The highlight came at the end when he stripped it back to some traditional old fashioned beat boxing, technology free.
On the road to tour his new album Distractions, you could hear the care taken to create several original songs, and his singing voice was surprisingly soulful.
The fact is though, there are just better sounds out there created by voices and actual musical instruments.
Beardyman looked bored, like he was just going through the motions, a man that looked like he’d spent too long on his own with just his computers for company.
There’s no doubting the skill here, but once you get the idea - vocal noises recorded and layered on top of eachother to create a complete song - the end result is not nearly as clever as the sum of its parts.
Support on the night came from Lancaster/Morecambe based Schooltrip.