Live Reviews

The Duke Spirit @ Heaven, London

4 February 2011


The Duke Spirit came on, played some old songs and some new songs. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.

When you break it down, live reviews really are achingly prosaic, aren’t they? In this day and age, the chances of this actually making a perceivable difference to, well, anything are pretty slim.

We could lie. We could tell you that during this gig The Duke Spirit raised the dead. That you should all go out there and buy the new record because it’s quite possible they, collectively, are the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And, while you’re there, buy the first and seconds ones’n’all, lest yee offendeth him. Them. Whatever.

But you know that they didn’t. You know that they didn’t because if they had, if the Duke Spirit had genuinely caused the recently departed to walk the earth again, you’d have heard. You’d have seen in on YouTube. But you haven’t. You’ve seen a squirrel falling over and strange man children lip-syncing to horrendous Europop next to Fiddy Cent, but you haven’t seen any bands re-animate any corpses.

The Duke Spirit came on, played some old songs and some new songs. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.

Yes. It’s prosaic. But it’s not necessarily supposed to describe a bad thing. No, it isn’t like The Duke Spirit have spent the last three years discovering an affinity with dubstep, but then again it’d have been pretty ugly if they had.

They are still the same musical principles tied around the same focal point that they were three years ago: a slightly gothic, slightly edgy, pretty-tight rock band with, in Leila Moss, a siren of a lead singer.

In many ways, they’re a bit like Metric. An analogue Metric – Imperial, maybe. A steampunk Metric, all electronic parts fashioned into a HG Wells-ian equivalents.

And in many ways, it’s good. Old ones, Into The Fold, Cuts Across The Land, do all that they should. They’re swaggering and punchy, bluesy and atmospheric.

The new ones too are canny enough, sliding painlessly into the set list without upsetting anyone. Hell, we’ll go so far as to say Everybody’s Under Your Spell, with its oil-stained, devil-eyed, driving insistence, is pretty damn fine.

But songs have never really been The Duke Spirit’s problem. In fact, it’s always been a little difficult to see what the problem is. The reason why The Duke Spirit have been ‘almost’ for most of their career. More troublingly for them, it’s also difficult to see it changing.

Nothing has materially changed about them and nothing has materially changed about the world they inhabit. And, probably unsurprisingly, some of that taedium vitae is starting to seep into that which they do.

The Duke Spirit came on, played some old songs and some new songs. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference. Sometimes the prosaicness of something says more than eloquent phrasing ever could.


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More on The Duke Spirit
The Duke Spirit – Bruiser
The Duke Spirit @ Heaven, London
The Duke Spirit – Neptune
The Duke Spirit @ Soho Revue Bar, London
The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across The Land