Friday, 15 January 2010

The Duke And The King


Nov 09
The Scala, London

Sunday night at The Scala saw the coronation of The Duke And The King. That dynamic duo, Simone Felice and Robert ‘Chicken’ Byrd, who’d crafted the mellifluous, wounded Nothing Gold Can Stay have now totally assimilated the transcendent voice of Reverend Loveday and the voluptuous fiddle of Simi Stone. At the End Of The Road Festival they’d been excitingly finding their way; here they were a band.

Put together these four New Yorkers, self-styled glam-soul-folk outfit, discover, in Dylan’s words, ‘the blood of the land in (their) voice’. Tapping into the mystery and tragedy of their homeland, creating music that’s genuinely americana, and abundantly joyful. A sense of church here, though good church, the room infused with benevolence and bonhomie. From the get-go they feed off this, and it turns into a glorious ride.

Simi’s violin is now to the fore; there at the intro to opener ‘If You Ever Get Famous’, as she is for the anthemic take on Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’ at the set’s climax. During ‘Suzanne’ she and Burke carry on a breathtaking, flirtatious conversation; his voice, her strings. The Reverend meanwhile, from behind his kit, throwing in vocal lines that never fail to seize the scruff of the heart.

They play much of the album and a few Felice Brothers tunes; a beautiful ‘The Devil Is Real’ as first encore; waving goodbye with ‘One More American Song’, a triumphant, broken flag of a finale.

from Rock'n'Reel Jan/Feb 2010

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