Live at Cornerhouse (Huddersfield) on Wednesday, 8th June 2005
Last time I saw Duke Special was in Leeds at Joseph's Well about a year ago when his gramophone refused to work and his piano packed in leaving him to do a cover of "You are my Sunshine" while banging two cymbals together. He played two songs that night.
To cheer him up (baring in mind we'd never met the man) we took him back to our mate's house where we had a bottle of Tequila and Jack Daniels waiting for us. What my friend had failed to tell us was that his Mother was asleep upstairs and she wasn't particularly in the mood for a knees up as it was Tuesday night. Anyway to cut a long story short it ended up with a very cross lady in a pink dressing gown screaming at the top of her voice "Get these dossers out of my house NOW!"
So when I was asked if I wanted to put pen to review this I just couldn't say no!
Before the Dukester we have a nice acoustic set from Alec Townsend who's set is not too dissimilar to that of Tom McRae. He gives us a stripped down version of his band Serotonin's songs using an acoustic guitar and a stool. It's nice enough for starters and the free CD I received is definitely worth a visit to see Serotonin.
David Ford is a different kettle of fish all together; he has a piano, drummer, female backing singer and twiddly nobs a plenty. He manages to win the crowd over with his songs of despair, happiness and protest full of melody and ideas.
Roll up Duke Special with the kind of shy charm that would make your Mother gaze at his scruffy dreadlocked hair and heavily blackened eyes and say "such a lovely boy!" while catering to his every whim while he sits in your Dad's favourite chair (just not at 2.30 in the morning though) and with an arsenal of tunes that could even put a smile on the likes of Jason Pierce's face if he took his head out of his arse for long enough. Duke, armed with a gramophone, a small piano and a guitar on a stick (not sure if that's the technical term?) has no sign of the technical difficulties that dogged him on that fateful night at the Well and proceeds to bang out a set of wonderfully constructed pop perfection leaving the Cornerhouse faithful hanging on his every word.
Duke Special will never be a million selling recording artist but every town he travels to he will change at least one persons life with his beautifully written heavily charming pop songs and as he smiles at the heavily appreciative audience that seems to look good enough for him.