So Destroyer, or Dan Bejar to his friends (although there’s none on stage tonight) continues his world domination via a recent EP sung in Spanish, a video in which he sings to some chickens and an acoustic one-man gig at the elegant Bush Hall, on a Monday. At which there’s no merchandise. Blanket marketing a la Daft Punk this is not. But then Destroyer has been a difficult sell in music for a while. On the one hand Bejar is incapable of not writing bewitching soft-focus melodies, while seemingly equally incapable of resisting the kind of lyrical honesty that gets you thrown out of bars.
It’s a long way to come from Vancouver to London for an hour strumming, but there’s enough of crowd to make it worthwhile. Your Blood from 2004’s Rubies album makes immediate impact, as he brings new meaning to ‘letting the music do the talking.’
The Chosen Few is typically wry, ‘I know the record’s doing well/but your boyfriend is from hell’, and you know it's intimate when the performer’s worried about the crowd hearing a creaking stage floorboard. Comically, it is soon joined by the main room’s door, which brings us to 2008’s Foam Hands. If it’s almost impossible to listen to it’s stripped back intimacy in even such gentle surrounds without thinking of Miley Cyrus, then God knows what damage she’s done to the worldwide Foam Hands brand.
But back in Bush Hall it’s all gentle stuff, with songs such Downtown, from 2011’s lush Kaputt album lasting barely long enough. As the Dylan-esque Helena’s (‘So throw the old furniture in the fire/As the children go barbaric behind the wire’ closes, he jokes about being surprised by “How many non-disco songs I've written. What? 95%..?”
Chinatown misses its electronic backing, while Savage at the Opera, like an argument in Latin, means plenty to people in the know. “You've been kind, so I'll play an educational song,” he says, introducing Don’t Become The Thing You Hated, with its perfectly pitched aping of Ziggy Stardust, and the thoughtful ‘Suns rise and suns go down again.’
He sadly reports that the encore isn’t any of the shouted-out requests, but adds diplomatically “that it touches on the themes of them all.” Virgin with a Memory (‘Is this the movie or the making of,’) closes the ‘show’, somehow sounding as romantic as waves beating a faraway Mediterranean shore. And as Dan disappears in the promise of a new album next year, it is unlikely Daft Punk will be trembling.
Photo credit: Naomi Hood