This week Park Theatre in Finsbury is hosting The London Jam, a festival celebrating improvisation talent. It seems only apt this musical comedy act was included.
Abandoman is introduced as 7th of the Irish hip-hop top 9. The group is made up of Dave Cribb on keys, James Hancox on guitar and Rob Broderick, the rapping frontman. During the show they use the audience’s stories to improvise their songs.
Audience participation is notoriously tricky, and like any improv it took a little to warm up. Last night was also not helped by early technical issues: the sound initially blasted the last row out of their seats, which made it hard to appreciate the first song.
However, it soon showed that Broderick has a real knack for coaxing stories out of people. The self-effacing opening effectively introduced the audience to Abandoman’s sense of humour: they might tease but they won’t humiliate, creating an exciting atmosphere.
Through clever musical observations and references, the audience is steered towards the kind of song they are about to create. After setting the scene, the magic happens: Broderick asks for a story from someone’s life. He charms them into telling more details, more answers and pulls in other audience members to keep everyone involved.
When the music starts Broderick’s incredible talent is revealed: he spins the whole conversation and interaction into clever and funny lyrics to make up the song on the spot. We witnessed a Robin Thicke-style song for Elliot (“Great… nothing rhymes with that”) and Steph who like cooking together; Peter’s New Year’s resolutions to drink less cider and dance more salsa were transformed into a Drake song.
The roaring applause said it all; the evening belonged to Abandoman.