inulro: (Default)
I've never been to a sold out gig at the Louisiana before. That was - cramped. We were tempted to see him yesterday at the Gloucester Guildhall instead because it's a better venue. Really should have.

I'd been looking forward to seeing Duke Special in a smaller venue than the Thekla, but I've always had a better view at the Thekla. Having said that, it was more of a fun and intimate show. It was just him and his piano - in the past I've said I prefer the gigs he plays with the full band, but this was lovely.

Seeing Duke Special live is always one of the highlights of my year. Much as I love his recorded material, his voice is much richer live, and his battered old piano brings a real warmth to the songs.

I've now seen him do several very different renditions of Wake Up Scarlett, and have been left in tears every time. I never cease to be amazed at how effectively he uses the piano for the rhythm parts on Brixton Leaves[1].

There was the usual mix of his greatest hits, music hall- & silent film- inspired numbers, with indeed a real Ivor Cutler music hall number, and some really, really random covers - most notably Love Will Tear Us Apart (it's on one of the albums) which might just be better than the original[2]

He does several numbers as sing-alongs. I usually refrain out of respect to everyone standing around me, but I love Last Night I Nearly Died so much, and I know all the words, so I was singing along loudly and badly before I knew what was happening.

Loved every minute of it, as always. He tours Ireland playing tiny venues in towns I've never heard of all the time, and I always mean to take a fortnight and follow him around. One of these years I will.

[1] OK, I've seen so many crappy goth bands where the singer's girlfriend is plinking away with one finger on the keyboards that any outfit that offers a musician who can actually play with both hands I get over-excited.

[2] Yes, really. You all know how much I love JD, but Duke Special has a much better singing voice, for a start.
inulro: (Default)
1. I finally seem to have broken the work/sleep cycle I've been in for the last three weeks. The first two were not so bad as I felt really well during the day and then came home and crashed, but last week was just awful. I thought Friday was never going to end, and I was so ill on Saturday I had to miss a works drinks do that I really did want to go to. But look, it's 8:30 pm, I didn't have a nap after work and I don't feel like I'm being tortured by being awake.

2. Duke Special is touring in April, and unlike the tour he's just finishing up, there's a Bristol date (26th April). Tickets ordered today! (Full list of dates here.) I'd be bouncing around more in excitement if I had any bounce left in me.

3. Just saw last night's Being Human, and was well impressed. I never did get around to watching the pilot last year.

4. I got rid of all the silly applications on Facebook, like the Sea Garden and all that stuff. No offence to anyone, it was just sucking up a lot of time that could be better spent, like, actually communicating with people. I made an exception for the "shite gifts for academics" application, because that's just hysterical. Another friend from university came out of the woodwork just before Christmas, which was awesome.

Er- I thought there was more, but that seems to be it. Perhaps I'm so overwhelmed by being vaguely functional again that it counts as three things.
inulro: (Default)
My otherwise stressful and lousy week was immensely improved by going to see Duke Special on Thursday evening.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen him before with the full band, but this tour is a solo - just him and his piano, and some old black and white films projected onto a bass drum at the back.

He came onto stage carrying a suitcase, which turned out to contain song sheets! I've been going to gigs for a lot of years, but I've never had that happen before. This was a big hit with the crowd.[1]

The set was a good mix of new material (a new album is in the works), songs from the last album, a couple of old music-hall standards (cue the audience participation part) and a surreal cover of "I feel for you". I didn't think "Freewheel" would work without the band (lots of horn crescendos), but he played a re-worked version of it that was simply stunning.

The whole show was amazing.

[1] Speaking of the crowd, the last time I saw him, the crowd ranged in age from 18 to way older than me. This time the crowd was much older. Odd.


May. 10th, 2008 07:59 pm
inulro: (Default)
In a good way. Very productive day. For me, anyway. Plan was to rip up some lawn and plant some lavender[1]. I got as far as ripping up the lawn. Not as pathetic as it sounds - there is no more pernicious and hard to get rid of plant than grass where you don't want it. I may or may not be able to move tomorrow, but I have to plant out all the little lavenders I bought today as they're very root bound. I hurt already. This may put a spanner in my plan to ride the bike to work on Monday.

I even had the sense to not rush out and do anything during the hottest part of the day, but slept all afternoon and started digging around 5.


While shopping in Sainsburys, the background music was Duke Special's "Last Night I Nearly Died". That probably means that later this month will be the last time I get to see him in a small venue for a tenner. Am very glad I have a ticket now.

At least I'll have got to see him twice in a small venue. Due to slug-like tendencies on my part, the other new-ish bands that I really like, The Killers, Muse and Arcade Fire, were too big to see in a small venue by the time I heard about them.

For Joy Division fans: Ian Curtis was the subject of this week's Great Lives on Radio 4. It's only up for a couple more days as I caught the repeat on Friday rather than the original broadcast on Tuesday. It's not very illuminating at all, but did play the unreleased version of Love Will Tear Us Apart which is just Ian and a piano, which I had never heard before, and is worth it for that alone.

[1] Original plan was to plane some more heathers & alpines, but due to poor selection at the garden centre I ended up with an enormous amount of lavender instead.
inulro: (Default)
Duke Special is touring again, and there's a Bristol date:

Thursday, 29th May at the Thekla (yes, the bloody boat. He seems to like it).

Just him and his piano, no band.


Not sure when I can get down to the ticket shop to buy tickets. I might have to (gasp) phone my order in.
inulro: (Default)
From the Duke Special web site:

Duke Special 5-night Empire extravaganza!

We are very pleased to announce that Duke Special will be playing five consecutive nights at the Belfast Empire from 19th – 23rd August. These will be very special and unusual shows with each one having a different theme and each show featuring special songs and guests. Duke has given each show a title – more information will be revealed much nearer the time!

August 19 - Olde Time Music Hall
August 20 - Tales from the silver screen
August 21 - Big band showtime
August 22 - Symphony of Songs
August 23 - Vaudeville Extravaganza

Not going to happen in the current financial situation, unfortunately, even with the free place to stay in Belfast.
inulro: (Default)
Wow. That was one of the best gigs I've ever been to. I kind of figured it would be very good after seeing his performance on Joolz Holland, and the album, while full of lovely songs, feels as if something is being held back all the way through.

The band was a Duke Special on piano, a percussionist (one of the biggest, yet oddly not loud drum kits I've ever seen), guitar/bassist, and a guy who played clarinet, sax and occasional keyboards. What can I say, I get a kick out the clarinet solos.

They did pretty well all the songs from the current album, and a few from the earlier singles (now collected on a full length CD, which is sold out everywhere). He's not only a more than competent pianist with a beautiful voice, he's a very charismatic showman. The venue was a boat and they opened with a ballad that had lots of allusions to boats, and sinking, to which he did appropriate startled looks and eye-rolls and it was more than a little funny. The sound was really good - I was very close to the speaker and I can still hear. Maybe it's because the gig was largely acoustic.

They closed with a stonking rendition of Salvation tambourine, and for the encore came into the audience with an accordian, tin whistle, violin and drum and played a song about boats and sinking, and had the whole crowd sing along. At that point I discovered that he's only small - I was wearing flats and I'm definitely taller.

His really strong northern Irish accent is only a little more pronounced live than on CD. For the non-Brits among you, this is probably not the Irish accent you're thinking of. Go find some news clips of Ian Paisley or Gerry Adams. I speak several languages and I didn't know you could do that to vowels until I met people from Belfast.

If you have a chance, you should definitely go see this show. Most of the remaining UK dates are sold out, and if you want to see them in Ireland you have to go to some really obscure places like Waterford, but they're on the Continent in March and none of those are sold out yet...

He not only puts out singles on vinyl, they are 78s!!! How cool is that, but I have two turntables and neither plays 78s. That turns out not to be a problem - there's two singles - the A side is on 78, the B side on one is 45 and 33 on the other, and the A side song is on the playable side. Sadly, I only had enough cash on me for one.

The website is here.

And this has been one of my least coherent gig reviews ever, for which I apologise. I must be more articulate when I've had less fun, or something to that effect.


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