Friday, 24 August 2007

Why the Duke is Special

Last night I was privileged to be present at the last of Duke Special’s 5 themed gigs at the Belfast Empire. I must admit that I’ve rarely been to a more playful or enjoyable concert.

Having watched the Duke supporting Divine Comedy some time ago, I knew that live performance brings his wistful songs on the themes of regret, guilt and loss to stunning life. The singer has a delicate touch and good-natured manner which bring fun to these sometimes sombre preoccupations.

Surrounding his wonderful music, with its attendant sadness and humour, on this occasion, was a carnival of entertainment, the whole being presented through the device of a vaudeville show and the result was hugely entertaining, extremely funny and it both captivated and involved an enthusiastic crowd.

We were treated to a charismatic compere, as well as a series of engaging sideshow acts in addition to the music.

Congratulations to Duke Special for producing something beyond the ordinary and putting on a wonderful show, which nevertheless didn’t threaten to overwhelm the music (still the sparkling highlight of the evening) but rather complimented it and left everyone present feeling thoroughly satisfied.

2 comments:

ALAN J said...

I loved the gig too but I'd love it if the "DUKE" was less fun and did an emotional show with only his music and passion to the forefront.Its not Northern Irish to show your feelings but I can identify with so many of his songs that I'd love him to give us more of his story.

Chekist said...

Perhaps the Duke is being astute in keeping back something of himself Alan. The persona "Duke Special" is an act. Everything from the hair to the eyeliner to the repartee with the fans is staged.

The most direct emotional communication with his audience is through the music and lyrics and probably that's the healthiest approach for an artist.

Personally I don't think the music got lost amongst all the other trimmings. But the music is certainly good enough to stand on its own.

I'll be interested to see whether Duke's Opera House dates will be sparer affairs, or whether the theatrics will play a part. Either way I can't wait to see him perform again.