The Duke Spirit
Archie Bronson Outfit and The Magic NumbersEdit this event
- Buffalo Bar, Islington »
Just wait until you get a chance to see this band. The Magic Numbers are something very special. Charm seeps from every pore, every note and every smile. It’s a very rare trait and one that their ever-adoring fans lap up throughout tonight’s flawless set. The Buffalo Bar’s response to their folk tales of love and loss is both rapturous and devoted – a fitting reaction when confronted by song writing of this quality and intelligence. The harmonies are flawless, the guitar playing intricate and Romeo Stodart’s vocals are, as always, as moving and grooving as the lyrics he so eloquently delivers during every tune. If there is any negative feature of this performance then it lies in the length of the songs. Most of the 50 minutes-plus set is made up of six-minute songs that sometimes feel a little too drawn out. However, this is a minor quibble because in most cases the songs have such dynamism that their melodies and rhythms quash any thoughts of time within the first few bars. Quite simply, stunning.
The unenviable task of following The Magic Numbers storming entrance is left to Domino signing's Archie Bronson Outfit. So we go from lullabies and Johnny Cash-isms to gritty, murmured blues. It’s a strange transition but a surprisingly fitting one in what’s turning out to be another brilliant Basement Club. As opposed to The Magic Numbers lengthy set, ABO are on and off stage within twenty minutes. A ruthless mixture of drawling guitars, dirty bass lines and some of the most satisfyingly spasmodic drumming you’ll see this year, ABO’s short blues attack is patchy but pleasurable – former single 'Kangaroo Heart' still being the pivotal point of their set and as usual every song is played under the watchful eye of The Goose – go see them, you’ll see what I mean.
The Duke Spirit - four boys, one girl - take the stage with the spooky lingering style that coloured last year’s mini-album ‘Roll Spirit Roll’ and is a continual presence throughout tonight’s performance. Much has been made of singer Liela Moss… and rightly so. Lustfully wired and smouldering, she provides the necessary centre for a band whose songs annoyingly all seem to burn at the same pace. The Velvet Underground are in there, as are bits and pieces of Joy Division. The Duke Spirit’s songs revolve rather than progress. They spin around a focal point (Ms. Moss) with the melodies and guitar clicks being pulled together by a hypnotic centrifugal force (Ms. Moss). Hence we get the necessary crescendos and drop offs that give these songs the much needed magnetism – this again is reinforced by… Ms. Moss. It certainly gives the band a definite character - if the dead could groove, this band could well provide the soundtrack. ‘Red Weather’ and ‘Howling Self’ are as rhythmically sexy as their recorded counterparts and the down tempo beats of ‘Lovetones’ are a welcome addition to the band’s laconic canon.
Whether the rest of the band like it or not, The Duke Spirit is all about Liela Moss. She has an almost indescribable way of delivering her lyrics. It’s a strange mutation of polished syllables and raw, smoky lust – check out the verse of 'Red Weather'. There’s just not quite enough change here. It’s far from monotonous, but the gig falls short of being a complete mind-f**ker – a level you feel this band need to attain to satisfy both themselves and their audience.
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