Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Duke Spirit live at FELT

Tonight I pull myself away from a whirling first few days with my newborn child, and go into Boston to see the excellent Duke spirit. We fight our way to FELT through the blustery rain, and weave through unmarked doors and up dark stairwells to find the small room in which they will play. This maze like course makes the whole event feel like admission to something cosseted and secretive.

(The Duke Spirit at another (bigger) venue)

The set up is so small that after a few minutes shaking the rain off our coats and getting drinks, the band simply walk up right past us, from the back of the room, and pick up their instruments. This is a very cool band with an image to uphold, and tonight we get to feel, in this cloistered space, like we’re really part of their scene. Singer Liela Moss tells us that her dad used to live in Boston, presumably in the hopes that this will make the band seem more at home here. She need not worry, though nothing about the Duke Spirit seems to fit Boston, or even America (at one point she says, with some embarrassment, “Oh, I sounded a bit American then, didn’t I”). Instead, the crowd comes to the band – we are transported to some pub in Camden, North London, to hear the energy of the Duke Spirit playing on their home ground. It’s a rare chance to let a band show us where they are really coming from.

(Moss gives it her all, on their last tour)

Moss seems to exude so much calm confidence, and her voice, which sounds like it might break at any moment (but never does), is compelling. The rest of the band are no less able to project their control over the room, as they lead us through lots of tracks from last years “Neptune,” some B-Sides, and a couple of new tracks. I’ve missed the chance to see the band in the past, but after tonight I’m glad I got the chance to see them first in such an intimate setting, before their future success means they will play more distant shows.

Check out “Neptune” and feel the Duke Spirit’s great soul-pop music, so you’re ready for the next time they grace us with their presence.

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