still I know if you impress me here I might...
monday night*. chinatown. the duke spirit. live. FINALLY. motherfuckin' A.
I don't know whether it was the deliriousness from receiving the early tip off about bust magazine** hosting their free show (thanks contributor therese!). or the fact that fontana's is a pleasing, albeit extremely hip, venue that I will definitely return to. or the fact that the cranberry vodka was free from 8-10. I don't know, I don't know. but it's true, I haven't enjoyed myself that much at a show in a while. since I was the goofball at the very front of the stage, dancing & singing along (the only one, I might add) chances are that if there are pictures of this show circulatin' on the internet somewheres, then there's definitely an elbow or a hitchcockian profile shot of me to be found amidst the sweat. & was there sweat. the spirit purvey an almost throwback blues vibe that's thankfully neither blueshammer or rebel motorcycle club 'cause they manage to make their blues meets razor shoegaze sound WARM. & that warmth makes ya move. there is no listless british deadpan mumble behind it all. & the songs start & end in sharp cuts instead of shuffling off in a neverending fade. & I like that nonsense! but things gotta change don't they?
but first, let's be critical. in the past, I've singled out vocalist liela moss's talents. her hoarse kitten taunt-rasp of a voice draws you into something that paradoxically you can't quite touch. her persona of blonde toughness is as artificial as it is alluring & that's a troubling thing. live, moss was very much a part of an extremely well-oiled machine. the cynics out there with a working knowledge of their cd, cuts across the land, might even say too oiled, since the spirit have been touring behind this offering for quite some time now & while the live versions thrilled, they weren't all that much different than the album. one new song in the set provided at least a touch of danger to the proceedings. but for the most part, it was tight, controlled rock choreography of the highest order down to the (lamentably) brief harmonica appearance.
I can't say it mattered much in the end. the crowd wasn't really moving ('cept for the aforementioned goofball) but that didn't stop moss from shaking it with the shakers, with the hips, with the tambourine. her hard little dark blue eyes fixed out in front of her, brown/blonde streaked hair swinging all about the place as she shimmied to her own commands. she is a calculated performer in that she certainly channels that frontperson as shaman thing & that's impossible to do without getting INTO it. & she was. occasional between song charmingly incomprehensible patter aside, like dr. john, she was there to nighttrip. & the crowd, despite their nyc-issued air of jadedness, were appropriately spellbound.
the rest of the band, all skinny, all dark haired & all strong-nosed were straight outta central casting for "jesus & mary chain: the movie!" but could back up the look with their fiercely telepathic playing. lead guitarist dan higgins was like an attack dog straining at his leash, itching for the moments when he could wail on his guitar in orgasmotastic waves of feedback. rhythm guitarist luke ford was also impressive with his tasteful but absolutely essential contributions, he was definitely the conductor of it all, bringing the control to the controlled chaos. rhythm section players, olly betts & toby butler, impressed with their fluid groove cohesion (that sounds pervy, don't it?), drummer betts being particularly impressive by playing with a straight-backed precision somewhat at odds with the power of his sound. he was, dare I say...watts-like?
as if you needed further proof of my dorkitude - yes, I nabbed the setlist & the songs played were:
cuts across the land
drinking you in
into the white
hello to the floor
love is an unfamiliar name
win your love
salt the stings
all in all, the gang noir sound this band gives off is somethin akin to aural black leather. it's dark, sexy, & moves well with the hips. the duke spirit are on my space, befriend them. & luckily for those in nyc, the duke spirit are playing bowery ballroom this friday, march 31 at 9PM.
now children, I know I've been trying to make you believers for some time now but my words aren't enough, let them seal the deal.
band (I'm serious! go!) to see live: the duke spirit
* belated posting due to home nursing of monkeys & wednesday night tv programming insanity.
** contributor mary has an article in this month's issue! about ladies on bikes (not babies on spikes)! she write good!
*** that's the new one, I'm sure there's more title but that'll do for now.