The Duke Spirit: live performances all over the UK

Here’s a blatant copy/paste from The Duke Spirit’s mailing list. Pay attention, because this is one awesome rock band.

Hello kindred

The Duke Spirit have appearances coming up over the next weeks and months, so here is a list for you to get yer teeth into:

This Friday, April 1st, they support UNKLE at their Brixton Academy show with Liela on guest vocals during their set. Check out the new UNKLE EP featuring Nick Cave and Gavin Clarke amongst others, out April 4th, with Liela singing‘The Dog Is Black’.

On Sunday April 10th, Liela is co-hosting the Huey Morgan show on BBC 6music. She will be the show’s first Sunday Girl live between 1 and 4pm UK time. OOooh. For those reading this outside of the UK who don’t know about 6 Music, it is THE finest National Radio Station in our homeland – and you can Stream it online HERE. Tune in to hear the sweet records Moss has up her sleeve for ya.

The band have just finished a collaboration with East London’s finest designers, Tatty Devine…Watch this space for the much-anticipated Golden Bruiser!

Tickets are on sale now for the May & June UK tour, click HERE for a town near you

The whiff of cowshit and cider is in the air…Click Here for information and tickets to The Hop Farm Festival, where The Duke Spirit will play on Friday 1st July 2011.













New music soon from The Duke Spirit

One of my favourite rock bands is back at it.

A new track from The Duke Spirit, “Everybody’s Under Your Spell”, will be available to download for free from their website this Friday (I presume that means UK time).

According to their mailing list: “New videos, live documentary footage and photographs to devour throughout October. There is an EP on its way too, along with the announcement of some live shows, and the album will be available in the new year.”

Live review: The Duke Spirit at the 100 Club

I’ve seen London rock act The Duke Spirit six times already, but the chance to see them in the tiny 100 Club last night wasn’t something I could pass up. And my pal Siany and her friend Eddie showed up too, so I didn’t have to be a gig saddo.

The support act was Joe Gideon & The Shark. I’d just recently heard of these guys: a brother-sister act (the Shark’s real name is Viva Gideon, which is already so rockstar-cool that it could only be bettered with a name like The Shark) that are like the White Stripes crossed with Fiery Furnaces. They belted out some awesome foot-stomping super-syncopated blues-rock. I would see them again in a minute. I signed up to their mailing list.

The Shark (via Creative Commons license from faithmonsoon)

The Shark attacks

Photo from faithmonsoon via Creative Commons license

In late 2007 I saw the Duke Spirit at 229, in February I saw them at Ginglik,  and I attended their last album’s listening party at The Social. They then proceeded to have a smashing 2008: touring the US, opening for REM and Duran Duran, headlining the Astoria, and doing some late-night US TV slots. They still seem to have some fondness for their old ‘hood, though, as last night singer Leila Moss explained that they thought it an oversight that they’d never played the 100 Club. I was glad to be there and see that corrected.

What could I write that I haven’t before? Their songs rock, Moss is a very cool frontwoman (witness Siany’s girlcrush), it’s just the right mix of groove and fun and attitude. The sound’s not perfect in a little rectangular room like the 100, but you wouldn’t expect it to be: you’re paying for proximity here.

Keep on rocking, Duke Spirit, you’re doing just fine. There are enough frills and tricks and posers out there.

The Duke Spirit

The Duke Spirit somewhere much bigger than the 100 Club

Photo from beardenb via Creative Commons license

The Duke Spirit at the Astoria

Just back from seeing The Duke Spirit at the Astoria. This was the first place I saw them play, when they opened for Elbow in early 2006. I’ve seen themseveral times since. They’re my favourite guitar band of the moment.

It was therefore a very familiar set tonight: all the rockin’ tunes from Cuts Across the Land and Neptune. Singer Leila Moss was all rock poses; the band started getting into it about 20 minutes in. “Love Is An Unfamiliar Name” and “Send a Little Love Token” well and truly rocked.

The sound was a bit muddy, though. I think I’ve been spoiled by good audio quality at previous shows.

The Duke SpiritPhoto from richt/tlodf via Creative Commons license

“That fatal kiss is all we need.” – Duran Duran

Who would have thought that the band that defined ’80s New Wave – Duran Duran – would still be playing stadiums decades later? Actually, at the time, we all did: they were huge and cool and good-looking and made for video. We thought they were the pinnacle of pop. Every generation thinks it finds the music and fashion that will be the ones to last, and Duran Duran were huge enough to convince us that they were it.

Duran Duran

Image from Jayne Hendry via Creative Commons license.

Duran Duran – They were, and they weren’t.

Backing up for moment, though, I’d like to reflect on the support act, The Duke Spirit. They filled in at the last minute when The Long Blondes’ guitarist fell ill. The Dukes are my favourite rock band at the moment and I’ve seen them a few times in the last year. We got to the O2 early enough to catch most of their set – which rocked, as usual – but it’s hard to play to a dark, half-empty 20,000-person stadium. Singer Leila Moss made a wry observation about how when they were starting out she would direct her mum to find their CDs in shops by telling her to look just in front of Duran Duran. And there The Duke Spirit was, last night: just in front of Duran Duran.

A little later Duran Duran came out, spotlight nostalgia and fashion. It’s true that I’ve not been a big fan of the band since about 1986. I was at Live Earth last year and saw them do a few songs there. However, I am a big fan of my wife, and so there I was last night. They dressed in matching trash-art suits which worked in a pop sense, but which were also distractingly lame. It quickly became clear that the band weren’t keen on taking things too seriously anyway: they were, as Simon Le Bon himself put it, “the band designed to make you party”.

So, yes, they played several songs from new album Red Carpet Massacre. The good news is that that album is slightly better than all the dreck the band has produced (and produced steadily) since the mid-’80s. Most of the new content was clustered in an initial burst of three songs, and in an electro set of 3 or 4 songs that the four original members played at consoles at the front of the stage (following a suit change, natch). The Timbaland production forMassacre made for some catchy moments but ultimately these songs are average. No one knew them, either.

Most of the old stuff went down a storm: “Planet Earth” and “Save a Prayer” were fun. They did both of my favourites, “Wild Boys” and the excellent Bond song “View To A Kill”. “The Reflex” was a huge adrenalin jolt for the whole crowd. The band sounded like it still had fun performing these songs. A couple, however – notably “Hungry Like the Wolf” and encore “Rio” – sounded like they really were getting a bit tired of playing them. They fit in all the intervening chart-botherers, too: we heard “Come Undone”, “Notorious”, “Ordinary World”, “Skin Trade”, and “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise”.

There were a few interesting moments to mix things up. During their elctro-beat middle segment they segued through The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” (which completely confounded the crowd). New track “Falling Down” was sarcastically dedicated to new London mayor “Boris Johnson and his good intentions”. During the encore bassist John Taylor (easily the squealing crowd’s favourite) sported a Barack Obama T-shirt. An extended “Girls on Film” was full of energy and contained a bit of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (one of my favourite songs ever).

Duran Duran wrote some great songs two and a half decades ago. They can still play those well today, and wisely regard themselves these days as a big, pretty-looking party band. Simon sings better than I thought he might now be able to (though his dancing seems to have become worse). It was a good night of light, danceable entertainment.

Mixed news

I’m going to see Duran Duran tonight at the O2. More on that tomorrow, but there’s an interesting last-minute change of support act I’ve just heard about. The Long Blondes have had to pull out because Dorian Cox, their guitarist, recently fell ill (a stroke, poor guy; it’s really a poor reason for me to be excited). Taking their place is my rock-band-of-the-moment The Duke Spirit!

Go see The Duke Spirit

I’ve banged on about my favourite UK rock band before. They’re back in the UK for a tour later in the summer. Go see them. I’m doing the London show, of course.

Oran Mor – Glasgow – FRI, 26/09/2008
The Cockpit – Leeds – SUN, 28/09/2008
Club Academy – Manchester – MON, 29/09/2008
Astoria – London – TUE, 30/09/2008
Komedia – Brighton – WED, 01/10/2008

Tickets go on public sale on Friday, but you can get there here now.

Photo from nevbrown under Creative Commons license

“I’m collectin’ vinyl”

Another big gig night: R.E.M.

After returning from a day out in Winchester, we made tracks for the Royal Albert Hall. The concert event there was in celebration of the 60th anniversary of London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. There were four bands playing, and in a gorgeous setting like the Hall I wanted to be there to see them all. Luckily, I’d been able to score good seats on the lower tier.

The first act were one of the NME-buzz-bands-of-the-moment, Foals. They’ve got a hard-grooving indie rock sound, and their songs are mostly long dancey jams with a singer who sounds like he stepped right out of 1983. I liked the sound, but each song sounded too much the same to me. The crowd were polite.

The second act was my favourite rock band of the moment, The Duke Spirit. They ripped it up as normal, but the Royal Albert is a pretty cavernous place for what is essentially a garage band. The crowd seemed to like them okay. Funnily, I already had tickets to see The Duke Spirit play the following night, long before I knew they’d be at this show.

The third act was British folk rocker Robyn Hitchcock. Although I knew his name I knew nothing about Hitchcock or his career. He played several wry, catchy acoustic guitar songs, but accompanied by legendary Led Zeppelin member John Paul Jones on mandolin. For his last couple of songs, he brought out some of the members of R.E.M., with whom Hitchock has a side band called The Venus 3. Their final song, “Olé Tarantula”, was fun. There was also a fun aside when some woman up in the gallery started screaming her head off – not sure at what, and she quieted down after a few minutes.

The headliners were, of course, veteran indie-rockers R.E.M. I saw them playonce before in Hyde Park. That show was a huge, miles-away outdoor sun-fest, and I was keen to see them play in this relatively small venue (especially since their summer dates back in the UK will be as festival headliners or at the massive Twickenham rugby stadium).

The band were really good. They were relaxed: engaged, but not trying to hard. They joked and talked a bit, and seemed to have fun with the room. They tried out what sounded like the entirety of upcoming album Accelerate. That album is scheduled for release next week, but it’s leaked already and I’ve listened to it several times. The buzz around it is true: it’s a return to rockin’ (if not innovative) form for R.E.M., and it’s the best sounding thing they’ve done in some time. We were therefore lucky enough to be familiar with all those new songs, and really enjoyed hearing the band work them out live.

They also played a handful of old faves like “Electrolite”, crowd fave “Losing My Religion”, “Drive”, and big closer “Man on the Moon”. They also played “The Great Beyond” and “Imitation of Life”, although I don’t think either of those recent songs are as good as any of the tracks from Accelerate.

The crowd was certainly pleased, as the band sounded good no matter what they played, and in a venue small enough to make it a special occasion.

There are a couple of early reviews in the Independent and the Metro.

EDIT: and now one in the Guardian.