Saturday, February 23, 2008

Duffy@King Tut's, Glasgow 23rd Feb

Duffy did a gig at King Tut's, Glasgow tonight. Review here, pasted in below.


By Fraser Cardow

With her Bernard Butler produced single Mercy going straight to number one amid a spate of publicity including Jools Holland, Jonathan Ross and Radio One's Live Lounge, Duffy's gig at Tuts had acquired a new status. The tiny and pleasantly grubby rooms buzzed with smugness as the crowd basked in their ratified taste.

They were a little bit older, the crowd. Perhaps they were drawn out of the woodwork by this music, which hasn't had a popular airing for some time. The sound in question borrows from a few eras, and certainly steals some of their best bits. It's a soulful, poppy, Northern Soul-inspired, Motown-fed sound complete with mournful echo, electric electric (sic) guitar and an irresistible groove. That and the typically poignant but clunky lyrics favoured by soulsters.

Add that music to the beautiful, petite and blonde Duffy's on-stage presence in King Tuts on Saturday and the effect was captivating. She stood out like a cute, willowy Dusty Springfield against her session musicians, the subtle absence of colour helping her blend further into the sixties, where she clearly wished to hail from.

As the 23-year-old from North Wales launched into her set, it became clear there was a slight case of false advertising. Almost all the songs are slower than the single Mercy, but nothing dragged. Rockferry, the album title track, began threateningly, building quickly (she loves the 3 minute song) into a statuesque and powerful song. Honey and Syrup is a wistful love song; soulful, slow and breathless, while Warwick Avenue is a classic time-to-move-on-heartbreak song – sad but triumphant. Stepping Stone told of another lost love - she's had a few – but as with all good soul, the message was in the rhythm; in the defiant hooks and heart-swelling high points. Most of the songs were love-torn heartbreakers, but Duffy's voice gels them into something special. It was a tight, stylish mix of the Northern Soul beat and classic soul floorshakers.

As she spanned through her album the overall impression was of consummate professionalism, which ironically took a little gloss off the show. She could do with a little more life in her limbs to shake off the highly produced vibe, which wasn't helped by album promotion between most songs.

But her quiet assurance obviously stems from talent. When she let loose, her voice was awesome. Her co-written blues (often her own, she told us so), were from the heart and powerfully delivered. The crowd stood quietly; a little dumbstruck perhaps, or maybe just mirroring her stillness.

She appears to be a new diva, a new Amy Winehouse or Adele. Perhaps more akin to Winehouse's classic soul pastiche, but this niche seems perfect for her. The public reaction has certainly revealed a demand for this kind of musical kickback to a purer time, and on the evidence of Duffy's showing in Glasgow, she's oozing just the right era.

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