There is something of the night about The Duke Spirit. But unlike Michael Howard, and in this context, that’s wholeheartedly a good thing. It’s something which makes you watch them with eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, knuckles turning white.
It’s memorable. More than that, it’s exhilarating. Sharing a visual queue, in statuesque almost albino blonde singers, as The Ravonettes they occupy a similar’ish artistic space. A space which pretty much adores that whole Velvet Underground arty, squally, piercing white-noise shebang, but that also isn’t adverse to there being some kind of tune underpinning it all
Tonights gig, a small-scale ‘secret’ affair, is their first stab at introducing the world to new material from forthcoming album Neptune. And it’s fair to say that during their not insubstantial time away, they’ve grown. They’ve spouted horns, pedal steels, keyboards, and a generally wider outlook on the whole process.
On first impressions, it’s gonna work a treat. With Leila Moss a hip-swinging, icy-cool cross between Axel Rose and Shirley Bassey, and a band of serious looking fellas behind her with facial expressions which suggest they’ve got some serious axes to grind, they’ve managed to move on from simply paying tribute to the noise-rock forefathers and put some space between themselves and their influences.
Lassoo is spectacularly like how you’d imagine a shoegazing James Bond theme would go. A entrancingly fuzzy wall of sound on which grandiose sweeps of brass are hung in heroic fashion. Similarly impressive, the set closing Into The Fold sounds like like Born To Run era Springsteen. That is, if Springsteen’s teenage protagonists were black-clad zombies who spent their time driving around seeking fresh victims for their ever growing army of the undead while listening to a never-ending a loop of Spiritualized‘s further flung moments.
Clearly hanging around with Queens Of The Stone Age producer Chris Goss and doing whatever it is bands feel compelled to do when they go to the Joshua Tree, has enlivened The Duke Spirits, well, spirit.
Amongst the strip-clubs and adult stores of Soho, it didn’t half feel right. Dirty, and yet strangely pristine. Belonging to some fantastical place, but still very much grounded in the grind of normality. This time around The Duke Spirit could really be on to something