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Abandoman: Pic ‘N’ Mixtape

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Abandoman frontman Rob Broderick has a dazzling talent, which he wears lightly. He makes the ability to ad lib hip-hop rhymes instantaneously, wittily and near seamlessly look as natural as breathing. It’s a jaw-droppingly impressive gift.

Why only three stars, then? Blame the law of diminishing returns. See this over 20 minutes, and I guarantee you’ll be blown away. When the same trick is pulled for the full hour, with little variation, you start to treat that talent as commonplace, even though it quite clearly isn’t.

Accompanied by guitarist James Hancox, Broderick gets the improv off to a cracking, pacy start by inviting the audience to wave random objects in the air, which the good-natured Irishman raps about spontaneously. It certainly sets the mood for the ‘genuine hip hop’ party that he promises – and delivers.

Next comes an ambitious musical, based on the lives of two random audience members. Tonight it took a medical theme with an occupational health therapist who helps neurology outpatients recover (comedy gold!) and an anaesthetist, whose job proved a definite tongue-twister for the affable Broderick. After interrogating them both about their lives and dreams, the mini-rap spectacular is on, and again Broderick proves himself a fluid and funny freestyler, even with this most specific of briefs.

Though the banter, both rhymed and spoken, is engaging, the formula does weaken with repetition. The duo try to inject some semblance of variety into their format, impersonating the cadences of Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Kayne West (thank you, vocoder), but the trick is essentially the same.

But my, what a trick. And once they figure out how to harness it for an extended period, the world – or at least the world of improv-rap-comedy – will be theirs.

Review date: 17 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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