Friday, February 22, 2008

22 Feb: Duffy Live@ The Ruby Lounge, Manchester

Tonight Duffy sang live at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester. Reviews pasted below.

Duffy @ The Ruby Lounge

Gary Ryan
23/ 2/2008

AMY Winehouse’s Back To Black was the biggest-selling album of last year and, leaping aboard the gravy train, 2008 has seen the unstoppable rise of the PG-Rated version of Camden’s finest: all the technical prowess but without the lurid personal life.

After Adele, Duffy is the latest Bisto kid for whom success seems something of a forgone conclusion. With her single Mercy resting at number one in the charts, this is less a gig and more a coronation.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to view the comely 23-year-old from a tiny seaside community on the tip of the Llyn Peninsula through cynicism-tinted glasses: Aimée Duffy was a contestant on the Welsh version of X Factor, and already has an album and EP under her belt, which sounded a million miles away from her new retro-chic sound.

It’s difficult to suppress the feeling that were Tesco shoppers to suddenly develop a predilection for Ed Banger-style electro, Duffy would be releasing an album filled with epic disco distortion and ear-splitting treble. It’s less Dusty In Memphis, more Lulu In Morrisions.

Authenticity aside, what she unquestionably has a terrific gutsy voice. At times, you think the band have simply put a CD on, although considering the stage height means half of the sold-out audience can’t actually see her, perhaps they might as well have.

Opening with Rockferry, the title track of her debut long-player, she ploughes professionally through a set of well-crafted early Philadelphia soul influenced songs, peppered with arrangements that recall producer Bernard Butler’s work with David McAlmont.

At the best, they’re great: Mercy is a confident Motown strut that recalls Charlotte Church’s Crazy Chick, Warwick Avenue sounds eerily similar to My Girl, while – best of all - the encore of Distant Dreamer is an epic, panoramic swoop of yearning worthy of the Ronettes.

Duffy at Ruby Lounge

Friday night saw one of the most hyped up gigs of the year so far, as the current chart topper and latest recruit to the 'next Amy Winehouse' brigade, Duffy, graced us with her presence at the Ruby Lounge.

The venue was crammed to the rafters with a mix of mods, Manchester's music aficionados and a fair few people who'd ventured away from their usual Friday night routine of a glass of wine and a take away to witness the 23 year old Welsh songbird in action.

Kicking off proceedings with the big radio favourite from late last year, 'Rockferry', I've got to admit that vocally she didn't disappoint. It’s just a shame that vocally is all most of those present experienced of her, as the majority only got to see her from the eyebrows up, thanks to the low stage and huge pillars.

As a result, there was a constant commotion as most of the crowd spent half the night repositioning themselves for a glimpse of her, with some resorting to using the view finder on their cameras as a mini tele, held aloft.

Thankfully, the evening was rescued by the fact that the girl can actually deliver the goods live - anything less and the bandwagon jumping members of the audience would've been straight on their internet forums knocking down the young starlet they've helped to build up so much, with a satisfied grin.

Indeed, such was the attitude of some of the crowd that midway through, as the tunes were flowing nicely, there was a sense that some were actually rushing her along to get to the big moment they'd all been waiting for, the inevitable finale of Mercy, which had everyone in the room - even some of the the bar staff - miming along and attempting to have a dance in the four inches of elbow room allocated to each person.

With the release of her album and some very satisfied punters, Duffy will be returning to the Ritz in May, a venue which will really compliment her retro style and please the Northern Soul-ers amongst tonight’s crowd. After all, when she plays there, there’ll not only be room to dance but a chance to actually see her too.

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