Some acts let the music do the talking, but performers can vastly improve their sets with routines. Too little conversation will have fans feeling the cold shoulder, while too much laughter-seeking fluff can result in awkward silences and lowered estimations. Stage patter is an art form, and one which Lach has down to a tee.
Lach (pronounced 'latch') is the creator of the self-titled genre 'antifolk'. Its hallmarks vary, but at the core of this show was a charming subversion of seriousness and lyrics that swung between poignant and hilarious. Taking to the stage without ceremony, he launched into 'Coffee Black', a mock coming of age tale ending with him howling 'when I learned to drink my coffee black/Oh baby take your sugar back.' In another offering we heard about a child with a Barbie of a mother and a Ken of a father feeling out of place, drawing a few empathetic whimpers from some audience members.
He chatted between, and sometimes in the middle of, songs with a practised ease in his chewy American twang. The audience was won over almost immediately as he riffed on his old material; luckily for him we were all what he called 'Lach virgins'. But his comedy seemed fresh: one seemingly improvised, and certainly surreal, scene inspired by a moment from the previous song starred Lach as The Doors' Jim Morrison and Robby Krieger, and later as Batman (the connection of course being Val Kilmer). Throw in a 'cover joke' about nail advertising, a brief discussion of fatherhood and song requests by subject, and the result is Lach, a one-of-a-kind performer, and a winning, first-class entertainer.
Not once did he appear flustered; despite the undeservingly paltry audience size, he proposed a singalong to the Spiderman theme tune. He sang for a minute before embarking on a verse taking off Bob Dylan which cheerfully ended, 'mumble mumble, something about the Pope.'
The show didn't last the whole hour, which was a shame. Even more frustrating was the volume of Lach's guitar which, although adjusted at the start of the show, was never quiet enough and too many lyrical gems were lost in transmission. But it was played expertly, with a tone-shifting pedal for the more complex numbers. 'Who needs a band?' he asked. Indeed.