Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
The XcertsEdit this event
Maybe Sam Duckworth, a.k.a Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, regrets labelling himself as a 'bohemian teenager' on his first record. After all, can you really still play songs like that, under such a title, when you’re 40? Can you even still do it when you’re 26? Before we find out, it’s The Xcerts who, despite having a name that makes them sound like a dodgy new rave band, could actually be more accurately labelled as ‘emo’. But that’s only if we’re being lazy about it, because this Aberdeenshire three-piece keep the flame of a very British sort of emo alive. It’s the sort that adds loads of extra notes to power chords, with big, anthemic crescendos and arpeggios that are drowning in reverb to suggest real moments of vulnerability. Honestly, the Xcerts sound like they should have been based in Surrey in 2002 (by which point they had already formed, though were still at comprehensive school), playing gigs at the Westy in Aldershot with Reuben and Hundred Reasons.
It’s strange then, that they should be supporting Sam Duckworth as he readies his techno-influenced third album, when they’d be more suited to opening for Biffy Clyro when they were promoting Blackened Sky. This all has an unfortunate impact on their potential appeal, since musically, their ship sailed past all but a small and dwindling niche long before they released their debut album last year. Their set, nonetheless, is erupting with confidence, energy and conviction. Perhaps it’s the Scottish twang in Murray MacLeod’s vocals (when he’s not trying to sound American) that occasionally reminds of Frightened Rabbit – though more likely, it’s the ring of the guitar and the eloquence of the emotions.
Wearing their hearts on their sleeves is what The Xcerts have in common with Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, who made a name for himself as a direct and honest chronicler of teenage sentiments (even if they were ‘bohemian’). When he started out, he was just a kid with a laptop and a guitar – a modest stage setup that embodied the punk rock ethos that Duckworth grew up with of ‘anyone can do it’. His music now, however, sounds more ‘everyone is already doing it’.
Early in the set, a cut from Duckworth’s self titled new album shows that in the two and a half years he’s been working on it, he has drawn from a wider circle of influences than his indie-folk labelling would otherwise suggest. ‘All Falls Down’ builds up layers of world music textures and rhythms, until an awkward rave section breaks out onstage. It is all skilfully composed, but it doesn’t seem like a style that comes naturally to a man who often did far more interesting things with just a guitar.
Another new track, ‘Morning Light’, which feels more like 'classic' Get Cape with its sweet folky melodies, goes similarly awry when the band start experimenting with the Balearic sounds of pseudo-euphoric house. Even the eponymous ‘Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’ from the singer’s first album sounds too stadium rock and preachy with a full band behind it.
This movement towards Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly being a band rather than a solo artist has run parallel with Duckworth’s own movement away from adolescent issues to being more 'grown-up'. And indeed, the performance tonight is a mature one, but only in a reliable, Radio 2 sort of way. The spark of youth, which meant anything could happen when you left a gig in the hands of some punk rocker with his emotions on full display, has been stifled.
When ‘Call Me Ishmael’ – a memorable single from The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager – is performed for example, the strength of the song is such that its sentiment still resonates with the audience. But it is a sentiment that Duckworth no longer looks comfortable with. He has outgrown it, calmed down and become more professional. So while he still means what he says, Duckworth doesn’t say it with the same youthful frustration that used to ignite his inspiration. He no longer looks like he’ll inspire a new generation of bohemian teenagers.
- In Photos: Friends Of Mine Festival 2011 @ Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield
- In Photos: Brighton Live 2010 @ Concorde2, Brighton
- Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
- Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, The Xcerts at The Deaf Institute, Manchester, Tue 10 Aug
- Watch: Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly - 'Collapsing Cities'
- More Get Cape album details emerge
- Listen: Download new Get Cape track 'Morning Light'
- Big names hop on the African Express