The Public Reviews Score
Devised and performed by Rob Broderick
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Rapper Rob Broderick, aka Abandonman, has beefed up his act for the current tour. Rather than rely on loops and boomboxes for musical backing he has recruited a full band – guitarist James Hancox, Dave Cribb on keyboards and Fred Harper on synthetic drums.
Abandonman’s act is demanding of both performers and audience. Frontman Rob Broderick improvises every rap based on suggestions from the audience. The first rap – What’s in your Pocket ?- acts as a mission statement as Broderick prowls the theatre rapidly devising lyrics based on items offered by the audience. It is a terrific demonstration not only of Broderick’s quick wit but also his observational skills keeping an eye on, and unexpectedly returning to, patrons who he has already visited. The most striking moment comes when a fan offers a heart pedant only to be asked if she survived The Titanic.
Broderick is not modest about his skill. Whenever he seeks a suggestion or even asks a name he audibly makes an assessment of just how hard it will be to construct a rhyme. Impressively throughout the show he makes only a single error and has to resort to a mnemonic (Sounds like Jason – Nathan!). Strangely Broderick’s fouled-mouthed lyrics could not be considered offensive; his constant effing and blinding becomes a sort of punctuation.
Although Abandonman are sincere in their admiration for hip hop neither the music nor the themes of the raps are representative of the genre. The music is extremely lightweight little more than a gentle rhythm and soft keyboards; This is a Drinking Song actually sounds close to folk music. The musicians resemble a 1960’s pop band more than a hardcore hip hop outfit all being white and dressed in matching Jimi Hendrix style military jackets.
Broderick is aware that the audience is not typical of hip-hop fans and enjoys gently mocking their background inviting them to point out problems that plague the middle class or things that evoke childhood memories. Broderick copes with suggestions like getting your hand stuck in a Pringles tin but even he is puzzled by a reference to Dorset Knob (disappointingly this turns out to be stale bread). Typical of Abandonman’s irreverent approach to a genre they revere a promised rap battle is visually represented as a game of Connect 4.
Abandonman turn to conventional anecdotal comedy only once as Broderick recalls his first exposure to the hip-hop genre, at age seven, resulted in him causing a riot at his school talent show by performing F—k the Police. He acknowledges that he wasn’t precocious enough to actually understand the lyrics but just liked the noise of siren playing in the background of the song.
Moonrock Boombox is a rare example where merging music and comedy actually works and a fine display of wit and style.
Reviewed on 15th June 2014