The Duke Spirit you suspect, are out of the fashionable loop at present, despite being blessed with what all good
Okay, it might only be the Duke Spirit's second showing on these shores, but it sometimes feels like we music lovers are fighting a losing battle with the Randstad's gig-going population. Admittedly the Paradiso is packed, but most people are here for the Rokysopp gig in the main hall. Rokysopp are a band who, however pleasing on record they may be, are fairly insipid live and certainly have nothing on the Duke Spirit when it comes to drama, colour and live spectacle. Still, standing around and chatting whilst Rokysopp play a louder version of their CDs seems to be the public's preferred mode of live entertainment.
About a hundred people with taste have gathered to witness the Spirit, who immediately swamp the small stage with their collective personality. Indeed, if ever a band was built for a big stage it is the Duke Spirit. They are in chirpy mood, setting about their set with purpose and elan. One by one the tracks off the debut LP Cuts Across the Land are aired, each getting progressively louder and more wanton. There was an initial restraint shown by the band in the early couple of numbers - as if they were worried that we'd all subsequently suffer ear complaints – but that concern soon passed off as the band threw themselves into their work.
Liela Moss in particular throws herself into the spirit of the evening, chatting away with the crowd as if we were all in the pub. Gone is the hesitant Ice Queen stance that was noticeable at Music in My Head last year. She has developed an uncanny knack of divining each song's timbre, as well as having a tailor-made dance for each track. At first it seems a tad clumsy, but once everything has warmed up and cobwebs are shaken off, Moss became almost talismanic, interpreting and projecting the emotional content in the music like no other singer. Everything clicks during Red Weather, where the band, simultaneously it seemed to this reviewer, drop their mental and sonic shackles and create a towering edifice of sound. From then on the gig gathers pace with thumping versions of Love is an Unfamiliar Name and Dark Is Light Enough. Sometimes the only obstacles are the intervals between the songs themselves. You only wish they would go the whole hog and perform a twenty minute ever developing incessantly screeching jam a la Sister Ray.
All too soon the gig's over. It was fabulous stuff at times.
The Duke Spirit you suspect, are out of the fashionable loop at present, despite being blessed with what all good (maybe great) bands are blessed with; (that's talent in abundance, in case you were wondering). Their natural affinity lies with bands such as The Velvets and they couldn't be less angular or arty when they hit their stride in concert. I also suspect that, despite being comparatively overlooked at present, (over in Holland at any rate) this approach and their determination to do things according to their own time-line will eventually bring dividends in the long run. It just has to.
Once again, marvellous, a great gig. We await developments with considerable interest.
Words: Richard Foster.