Reviews of movies, music, books and more by David Goody.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gig: Duke Special

There is a lot of presentation going on in this solo show by Irish balladeer Duke Special at Birmingham's Glee Club. As the lights going down a jumpy and scratchy piece of 1930's film plays (coming from a state of the art video projector). Mr Special (lets face it calling him Duke sounds just as pompus) walks out in a battered bohemian style suit nervously eyeing the audience through a ton of mascara. He winds up an old record player and drops the needle on a crackly backing track (played from a  dat?) and wanders over to his battered piano (actually a keyboard in a wooden frame).

All of this should lead to derision, except that when he starts singing songs of love and loss you forget the pretence and start to believe. His voice grabs your heart and squeezes it with lyrics that splash a little poetry and a mass of drama together. Tracks like Freewheel and Salvation Tambourine from his breakthrough album Songs From The Deep Forest shine brightest however his new material appears strong as well. Mid-set he hands out lyric sheets and gets the audience to sing along to some old music hall songs and it's clear everyone is in the palm of his hand.

Because in the end it's not what's real, it's about what you believe - and Duke Special can make believers out of most.


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