Gig 17: Duke Special, Foreign Slippers / The Lexington / 23.04.12

The Lexington is a great pub in Pentonville – light and airy downstairs with a cool music venue upstairs.
The upstairs venue is completely different in feel – you wonder if you’ve wandered in to a late night jazz club rather than a pub’s first floor.

First up was Foreign Slippers – a female vocalist/keys player with a guitarist in support. The guitarist – we found out later – was also an accomplished drummer, playing sensationally in Duke’s band.
Foreign Slippers played a nice set of acousticy folk pop – punctuated by the guitarist tuning his 1950’s semi acoustic between each song.
‘We tune because we care’ the singer said in her thick Dublin accent. ‘It’s bloody annoying though isn’t it’ someone in the crowd shouted back.
They played a short set and departed – allowing Duke Special to take centre stage.

Duke Special was testing out tracks from his new album ‘Oh Pioneer!’ and kindly explained the meaning behind each track in his own nervous, disarming, hands-in-pockets manner. It’s not an act – he really is quietly charming and within minutes has the crowd in the palm of his hand.

At one point, he missed his cue for the chorus and apologised profusely to the audience as he asked the band to start again.

The set was warm and rich, the songs well written and the performance solid. His band (drummer & keyboardist) provided the perfect rhythm section to his voice and keys playing – making a surprisingly full sound considering the number of musicians on stage.

The few solo tracks Duke played showed everyone why this was the case – he is an unbelievable pianist with a talent for creating a full band sound from two hands, stride arrangement and one keyboard.

Finishing the set with a crowd please ‘Our Love Goes Deeper Than This’ – Duke left the stage with everyone clapping and smiling. The gig was truly (Duke) special.


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