Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review:Duke Special,The Louisiana Bristol 12.4.2013

I had a great night out in Bristol on Friday.This is how it came about.
                            In 2003 Kim and i went to Dublin to see Van Morrison and we got chatting to Peter Ziemniak who was sitting next to us and were amazed to find we only lived four miles apart in Wiltshire.We met up several times since at various concerts and Peter owns a firm on the Westbury Trading Estate near where i work and he has spotted me a couple of times at the bus stop and given me a lift home.A few weeks ago Peter asked me if i'd like to go and see Duke Special in Bristol.I had heard the name before but i knew nothing about the music so i looked him up on youtube and i thought he was great so i sent Peter a message back and said i'd love to go.
We met  in Trowbridge on Friday evening at 5.00.Peter had organised a minibus for fourteen jolly boys and girls.His lovely wife and his son and daughter and various friends and work friends and me and Smithy.I can't remember everyones names i'm afraid but Harry the driver was a really nice guy and i had a good chat about music later on with Peters friend Steve.It was a really nice sunny spring evening for a change as we drove to Bristol,the countryside looked great and somebody played a Duke Special cd as we drove along,.Peter had supplied an ample supply of beer so by the time we got to the Louisiana everybody was loosened up for a great night.
We even had a parking spot reserved right outside the venue.I'd never been to the Louisiana before but it is a really great place. The couple who ran the bar are Italian and they were only going to cook for the bands but Peter had phoned up and they served us up a delicious Italian meal for fourteen.That certainly hit the spot.
The Louisiana prides itself on booking bands before they are famous.The walls are covered in pictures of people who have played there previously.Amy Whitehouse, Fleet Foxes, White Stripes, Corrine Bailey-Rae,Muse,Mogwai etc etc,and Snow Patrol were once the support band here.Whoever books the bands obviously knows their stuff.
Then we traipsed upstairs to see the show.I think it must be the smallest venue i have ever been in.The show was sold out so it was jam packed upstairs.The first act on was Nadine Shah and she was really good.I was watching her this afternoon on youtube and i think we will hear a lot more of Nadine in the future.The second act was Sadpaw and i think he must be a friend of Duke's because he played on a couple of Duke's songs later in the evening.

Finally at 9.30 Duke came on stage and by now the place was so packed you could hardly move your arms.The first thing Duke did was to invite twenty people to come and sit around him on the stage.That relieved the pressure at the front a bit and helped create a nice atmosphere.All evening Duke played the piano, sang and told funny stories.I think the first song Duke did was 'Slip Of A Girl' which is a really catchy song that i can't get out of my head since.Duke then told a really funny story that was inspired by a photograph he had seen of 'Rita De Costa' who made a career out of marrying wealthy men who died shortly after the wedding.Duke also handed out songsheets of some of the songs so the audience could sing along if they wanted which was a nice touch.Creaky Boat Blues is a great song for singing along to.I was bollixed by now because of tiredness and booze so i can't possibly remember all the songs.One song though i really liked though was Duke's version of 'I've Worn My Elbows Down To The Bone'by Ivor Cutler because i love Ivor Cutler's music.He is great and i'm really pleased Duke Special is into him.
Duke also sang a song i liked by My Bloody Valentine but i can't remember the name of it now.Another great cover version Duke did was 'Heart Like A Wheel' by Kate And Anna McGarrigle which was stunning.Duke has a great taste in other peoples music and i must say i like the way he sings in his Northern Irish accent which is great.A lot of singers from these isles put on a fake American accent but Duke doesn't.Of Dukes own songs i am really impressed with'Last Night I Nearly Died, But I Woke Up Just In Time'.I can't get that song out of my head either.The song i liked the best of all though was the last song of the night called 'Condition'.The dark lyrics are brilliant.'Sometimes its hard to make yourself think, its like the words are crawling back into the ink'.

Afterwards Duke kindly signed a cd for me.It is his new album called 'Oh Pioneer'.The title is obviously inspired by the book 'Oh Pioneers' by Willa Cather.I like it when people name drop books and things.Van the man is always doing that.I have been listening to the album while writing this and i urge you to check out Duke Special because he is a superstar.Its just that the world hasn't realised it yet.So thank you very much Duke Special, Nadine Shah,Sadpaw,The Louisiana but especially Peter Ziemniak for a brilliant night out in Bristol.