After a ticket mix-up meant we missed Duffy’s Pigalle Club shows, the opportunity presented itself to see one of 2008’s most widely tipped new stars just round the corner, in the Apple Store.
Debut album Rockferry is due at the beginning of March but already tops Amazon’s LPs chart, while new single Mercy sits pretty as the number one download on iTunes. Expectations were high for this intimate set.
There’s hype, and there’s hype. Duffy has been near-universally bigged up as everything from the new Amy Winehouse to the new Dusty Springfield. From tonight’s performance it’s clear that she’s soon to be icon of British pop in her own right. The 300-strong crown of fans and prize winners braved the chilling queue because they, like we, believe the wait will be worthwhile.
A confident stride and a winsome cheeky smile brings Duffy onto the stage. After a polite greeting she’s straight into album title track Rockferry, co-written with the elegant Bernard Butler. You can easily see how it grabbed the attention of Radio 1’s Jo Whiley to be the single of the week and to have gained Duffy her two recent sessions on Later with Jools Holland.
Warwick Avenue brings whoops and a cheer from the crowd, we are suddenly aware that her voice is even more powerful live than anything she has yet recorded. She looks to the crowd for their reaction and is coyly pleased as we applaud. She is witty and chats easily with the audience as she explains that they’ll be playing the songs we might know and that unfortunately it won’t be a full set.
Serious and Stepping Stone give her voice room to explore the dexterity of her soulful vocal range. The band Sgt Meadows, Ben E, Greeno, Mr T, Ayo and Karlos helped to transport the evening’s mood into something like the set of Ready Steady Go!.
The next song Breaking My Own Heart is currently available as a free download with iTunes. It’s not on the album, so fill your digital boots while you can. And on the subject of B sides to die for, Oh Boy is the sassy B side to Rockferry sung tonight live for the first time. It certainly didn’t let the set down.
All too soon the last song is pending. We can hardly wait for the none-more-’60s Mercy, and when it kicks in, feet twist and hips swing to its abandoned northern soul vibes. It’s irresistible.
Duffy is a born star with an uncommon stage presence. She is going to be a hard act for anyone to follow this year. When she sets off to tour the rest of the British Isles, beg, steal or charm your way into seeing her.