Monday, June 2, 2008

02 Jun: Duffy delivers a rousing and retro antidote to telly-pop

The below offering from the Daily Telegraph:

Duffy delivers a rousing and retro antidote to telly-pop

Adam Sweeting reviews Duffy in Manchester

So potent is Duffymania that her hit Mercy recently featured in the Stateside season finale of Grey's Anatomy, giving parent album Rockferry a welcome squirt of adrenalin and shooting it back up the US charts in pursuit of Leona Lewis.

But stripped of multitrack studio magic, can Duffy do it live?

She made an inauspicious start in front of her Mancunian admirers, launching into Syrup & Honey in the wrong key before hastily covering her mistake by introducing herself to the audience instead.

However, once harmony had been restored, she set about demonstrating that the grit and gravel that make her voice so distinctive on disc can be equally potent on stage.

Inevitably, her current show is basically her debut album plus a few trimmings, so the album's occasional sameness of mood is replicated in the flesh (for instance, after the sleek pop-soul of Serious, you don't really need the Motown pastiche of Delayed Devotion too).

But equally, the drama and passion of her best songs carry over powerfully to the stage, with Duffy anchoring herself to the floorboards to unleash some gale-force wailing in Rockferry, and cranking up the heartache in a joyously received Hanging On Too Long.

A cover of Burt Bacharach's plaintive Please Stay hinted that she has plenty of ammunition in reserve.

Having opted for a 1960s-evoking retro sound, Duffy - in a blue and white check dress, short enough to show off a pair of muscular-looking legs - has assembled a performing persona to go with it.

Though comparisons with Dusty Springfield have been lobbed lazily in her direction, she doesn't sound any more like Springfield than she does Lulu, Petula Clark or Peggy Lee. Indeed, it's hard to compare the raw, grainy quality of her voice to any other singer, a powerful asset at any time but almost miraculous in this era of insipid telly-pop clones.

But judging by her repertoire of moves and mannerisms, Duffy must have spent many an hour soaking up classic girl-group routines from the 1960s pop show Ready, Steady, Go!

There's the hip swivel, the rotating double knee-bend, and the little dip with hand on hip. For moments of high emotion, there's the stretched leg with pointed toe or the dramatically raised arm. Best of the lot is where she tiptoes backwards towards the drumkit, teetering on her pink kitten-heels.

Yet it wouldn't work if the songs weren't up to the mark. A majestic Warwick Avenue (a sly nod to Dionne Warwick, do you reckon?) sent the rave-ometer veering off the scale, and Distant Dreamer ended the night in a tumultuous wall of sound.

Now, if they could just arrange for Duffy to perform backed by a full orchestra and Booker T & the MGs...

1 comment:

Bad_Girls_Lament said...

Mixed feelings, but all in all a good review, thanks for posting D!!!