Peter Broderick & Friends Play Arthur Russell

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  • Claire Welles
  • Nick Branton & David Kelly
24 Kitchen Street 22/8/19

Misunderstood by many during his own lifetime, cellist Arthur Russell tragically passed away in 1992 unaware of the cult status his music would one day achieve. Now, as his reputation continues to grow, artists like multi-instrumentalist PETER BRODERICK are discovering the mystique of his music. Fans, too, who never had the chance to hear these outstanding compositions live, are now reaping the benefits.

Russell served a brief tenure in the 70s as musical director of The Kitchen, an NYC arts space that hosted emerging experimental acts. Tonight’s proceedings at 24 Kitchen Street appear to share something of that avant-garde spirit. NICK BRANTON & DAVID KELLY’s three-song, entirely improvised, set on saxophone and drum kit setting a fitful, atonal pace.

Outlier artist CLAIRE WELLES is truly absorbing despite being on the verge of losing her voice. Opening with the contagious (hopefully not) Viral Infection, Welles appears to be Liverpool’s answer to John Maus. “Life’s a piece of piss, especially when you’ve got no kids” she taunts on Shit For Brains, before the Krautrock careen of Knowsley. Both are taken from Welles’ new album Transpose; “It’s my Nevermind,” she deadpans. “You’re not meant to laugh.”

"If anyone is fit to handle Russell’s sprawling back catalogue, it’s Peter Broderick"

If anyone is fit to handle Russell’s sprawling back catalogue it’s Peter Broderick, a prolific recording artist with an obscene collaborative track record. The one-time Efterklang man isn’t one to rest on his laurels. We get a glimpse of his virtuosic talent early on during the deconstructed intensity of Lucky Cloud, which falls always to the measured delicacy of Close My Eyes. Undeterred by a false start, Losing My Taste For The Night Life is another fragile, delay-drenched high. Eli, scaled down from cello to fiddle, shows off the uncanny vocal resemblance between the two artists, as Broderick nimbly slides between notes in Russell’s signature touching style.

Broderick is later joined onstage by a backing band comprising of some of Glasgow’s finest guns for hire. Their alt-country and new wave leanings are swapped for a reggae backbeat on A Little Lost, which closes with the ecstatic repetition of “I’m so busy thinking about kissing you”. Next Broderick asks for a volunteer in lieu of Allen Ginsberg on Ballad Of The Lights. None of the fear-stricken faces around me seem game, as if his suggestion seems to insight the same state of anxiety surrounding a day of team building exercises. Claire Welles, luckily, takes the stage before the all-out mutant disco of Go Bang, Russell’s Dinosaur L dancefloor hit.

Broderick’s suggestion of getting the disco ball going is shot down (“The death star has not yet been completed,” he remarks) before some unnamed hero steps in repositioning the lights. Broderick then clambers into the crowd, exuberant and uninhibited, wailing the hook. Bathed in sepia rays, for his encore he closes with the contrasting tender balladry of You Are My Love, an unreleased Arthur Russell cut and one final testament to the iconoclast’s phenomenal legacy. A wild combination, indeed.

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