01 July 2012
Yes, the weather was foul; persistent rain all day. Yes, there was football on with England opening their account at Euro 2012. Yes there was a strong line up of Americana acts at the Borderline for the rest of the week. But, even so, I would have expected more than fifty or so people to turn up.
Then there was the talking; the proper loud, “my conversation is so much more important than anything else”, kind of talking that annoys not only the crowd but the security as well. The lack of people only made this worse and it must have been heard by Mike Doughty as he sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar.
This could have made for a bad gig. All the excuses were lined up for a substandard performance but it didn’t happen. Mike Doughty has been around a while, he will have played to similar size crowds, he will have heard the ignorant raising their voices and probably wondered what they were doing there. I’m not sure that Doughty has a bad gig in him – he’s too good for that.
Doughty is a song writer and he got through two dozen or so of his own plus a couple of covers including Mary J Blige’s ‘Real Love’. His best songs are of the type that when you first hear them you think that you’ve known them forever. ’Madeline and Nine’, 'Grey Ghost’, ‘Tremendous Brunettes’, ‘Busting Up A Starbuck’s’ are wonderful songs (OK, I’m not keen on ‘Vegetable’ but you can’t be expected to like everything).
Towards the end of the night – through ‘You’re Misfortune’ the Borderline employed the modern version of trying to pull a performer off stage with a big hook as stage lights were flashed at him (perhaps it was morse code). Rather than leave the stage Doughty swivelled round on his stall so his back was to the audience, then back to face them to close his set with ‘Put It Down’. There were fans there that knew all the words to all the songs and he wasn’t going to leave them early.