Saturday, April 12, 2008

12 Apr: Superhuman Duffy is Life and Soul

The below article appeared in the Evening Standard.

Superhuman Duffy is the life and soul
By André Paine, Evening Standard 11.04.08

'There are more people in this room tonight than there are in my home town,' announced Aimee Duffy.

It was the 23-year-old's biggest gig so far, with room for all 2,550 residents of Nefyn, north Wales. But she made the 3,700-capacity Royal Albert Hall feel almost intimate with her rich, rousing voice.

'I wish I had it,' admitted The Who's singer and Teenage Cancer Trust patron Roger Daltrey when he introduced her, adding that she's 'put the soul back into soul music.'

A bit unfair on Amy Winehouse, perhaps. But Duffy's appeal lies in her contrasting girl-next-door demeanour combined with songs that evince some genuine emotional drama from her life.

She appeared a little nervous at first, but settled into her support slot with a glorious Rockferry, the title track from her debut, which has become the fastest-selling album of the year.

Her band were sleek and well-drilled during the retro-sounding Warwick Avenue, while Duffy displayed superhuman vocal prowess. Hanging On Too Long showed her subtle, soulful side, before bursting into something more like a Bond theme.

Clearly enjoying herself, Duffy was soon telling jokes as well as paying tribute to the charity work. 'That's my ex-boyfriend,' she responded to one heckler. 'He keeps following me around.'

Another excitable fan seemed to get the better of her by interrupting the pregnant pause during the stripped-back Syrup & Honey. 'Behave!' she snapped.

She soon recovered on Stepping Stone, a breathy, stirring update on Motown, while the rather thin Serious was saved by Duffy's powerful voice, which ranged from velvety to strident.

It ended too soon with the No 1 Mercy, which got fans dancing, and Duffy left the stage to a well-deserved standing ovation.

Booking the Welsh newcomer some months ago was prescient of Daltrey, but in Paul Weller he'd signed up a British veteran who was playing his sixth TCT show.

Unfortunately, the Modfather performed the sort of self-indulgent set that music legends somehow get away with. Weller is 50 next month and his acoustic performance with guitarist Steve Cradock was sometimes absorbing, but lacked hits.

Instead we got some nifty guitar work, a few Jam B-sides - including an admittedly fantastic rendition of The Butterfly Collector - and a pointless solo spot from Cradock.

The reaction was hardly wholehearted, but an encore of the classic That's Entertainment finally got the crowd on its feet. Still, the evening belonged to Duffy - as well as Daltrey¡¯s admirable cause.

No comments: