Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Duke Spirit/Mercury Rev

Usually I’d ring a venue to find out support details and timings before heading out for a gig, but not having had the time to do the research, Phil and I take a chance and arrive at the Academy a little after 8pm. It came as a complete surprise and unexpected bonus therefore, to discover that the second support, who had just started, were the very wonderful The Duke Spirit.

Their set doesn’t disappoint either. Very tight musically and they seem to be winning over a good section of the crowd (which is the most any support act can hope for).

Of course the whole role of the support act is a tricky matter, but having gained the audiences attention, a little more interaction would have been well placed. As it was the personality of the band relies heavily on the capable shoulders of the lead singer, but a little more charisma from some of the guys, to match their musical talent wouldn’t go amiss.

Those reservations not-withstanding though, their set is cracking and I’m immensely glad we decided to take a punt and come in time to catch the second support.

Phil, sums up his impression of them thus “well I like anyone who favours the Caslon font setting…”.

And so on to Mercury Rev, whose use of the backdrop projection is a little more adventurous. In common with the music, it does very occasionally have you starting to wonder if it’s all just “artsy bollocks”, but no sooner has that doubt strayed into even the outer reaches of your mind then you’re caught up in yet another moment of transcendent beauty, so passionate and piercing in its intensity that all can be forgiven.

This is music that transports you to another world, an exquisite world of dreams and magnificent journeys.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer inhabit their lyrics as much as Jonathan Donahue, every word delivered with immense care and meaning. And what a voice! One can forgive the occasional over-the-top theatrics and the out-sized cuffs and collars, for a voice that soars like his. The man is poetry.

It’s a long time since I’ve been to a gig, where the music captured me so completely.

By the time they bring the encore to a close (and Donahue in particular is a man who knows how to earn, take and enjoy applause), I’m reluctant to leave this world that we’ve all escaped to for the last hour and three-quarters.

We leave happy – reminded as to why Mercury Rev albums (Deserter’s Songs in particular) are always up there on our iPod lists of ‘most played’.

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