ARTIST: Duke Special
VENUE, TOWN: Komedia, Brighton
DATE: 29th May 2012
FIVE WORD REVIEW: Theatrical Heartfelt Cheese; Loving Crowd
MAIN REVIEW: Walking into the basement of Komedia, the space is dimly lit and wooden, creating a calm atmosphere. The place is packed out, the audience waiting, seated, in anticipation. Duke Special aka Peter Wilson is about to begin. The Northern Irish singer/songwriter went solo in 2002, previously playing piano for Irish musician Brian Houlston. About to release his tenth studio album, ‘Oh Pioneer’, Wilson has received critical acclaim and toured alongside Snow Patrol, Van Morission and The Divine Comedy. Though never what you would call mainstream, his music has created a loyal fan base.
Wilson enters the stage – all dreads and character – looking like a reggae-goth inspired Boy George. He pounds down on the keys and lyrics fly out of his mouth with the melancholy emotion of a teenager who’s just had their heart ripped apart. Commanding the audience he tells a story of a millionairess who inspires his next song ‘Rita De Costa’. A master of the stage his Irish wit and swagger has the audience eating out his hand. He continues; hammering out lyrics, some with the conviction and power of a preacher, some with the vulnerability of a child.
Like so many singers Wilson is interested in telling stories – that is the core of his expression. The music surrounds the lyrics to accentuate the words. Wilson uses a myriad of sources for his songs, from old 50s covers to 80s power ballards, the result of which is a varied repertoire. Some songs are high tempo, toe-tapping, funky and grabbable; some are lower, slower more contemplative and heart felt. All are executed with theatrical grace.
There’s a truly lovely atmosphere in Komedia, created by an audience who are delighted to see the man in action. However Duke Special is not for everyone by any stretch. The lyrics are cheesy at times and the sound a little out dated. Regardless, there is no denying that his songs are truly genuine.
– Rebecca Linzey
PHOTOS BY Rachael-Emily.com