Cool gig last night: The Duke Spirit.
It was at 229, a club (just a big room with a raised stage, really) on Great Portland Street I’d never been to before. I only caught the last song by the first act, a bunch of kids called Beggars. Interestingly, that was of a rocked-up cover of Leonard Cohen’s “The Future” (it can be heard on the link I’ve given), which I thought was quite fun.
Second act were a guitar-drum duo called Creepy Morons. They were nicely dressed in white suits and rocked pretty hard. The musicianship was good, and the drumming energetic. The singing was a bit meh. None of the songs really stuck with me.
But I was there to see The Duke Spirit. Despite Dan’s recommendation, I didn’t know about the band until I saw them open for someone else, just once, nearly two years ago. I was hooked then, and went out and bought their album, downloaded some songs, bought their new EP, and have waited for a repeat London performance that I could attend.
Last night was the last on their tour – they’re off to work on LP #2 next – and they gave it to the room with both barrels. I was able to get right up to the front rail to get a good eyeful of the action. Singer Liela Moss has honed her stage presence since I last saw them, and she was powerful, rockin’, and sexy. The band has an art-rock background, and you can feel acts like Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground in there, but it’s all filtered through a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (or, maybe more era-appropriate, Jesus & Mary Chain) mesh of guitar and bass. In any case, every song sounds kick-ass to me, without a whole lot of variety in their sound. The odd harmonica, brass, or autoharp touch keep it from being too constant.
They played a lot of songs from first album Cuts Across the Land, of course, as well as songs from new EP Ex-Voto. My favourite track by far from the latter is “Lassoo”, which you can hear on the band’s MySpace (and went over very big last night).
I love this band, recorded and live. There’s not a lot of frills in it, but there’s an awful lot of good.