The Duke Spirit @ HMV Institute, 27th May 2011


The first of tonight’s band is the local trio, Circus Town. Opening with the track Beg, it is clear that this band know what they are doing by unleashing their immense sound upon the crowd. During Hear My Devil, the rhythm section provide a growling heaviness which the vocals cut through demonstrating this band’s ear for subtlety without losing the depth.


Admittedly the response to Circus Town’s brand of dirty rock’n’roll is mediocre to begin with, but gradually the level of appreciation builds and so, towards the end of the set, they have rightly won over the majority of the audience. Noticeably, each track is well crafted and by the final track, Take What You Want And Get Out, they have gained a new fan and it is clear I am not the only one. It is refreshing to see such worthy local talent being recognised and supporting signed bands, and I can wholeheartedly recommend you seeing them live.


Next on the bill is The Computers. All dressed in white, they take to the stage to present their “garage, soul, punk’n’roll” hybrid to an unsuspecting audience. The lead singer begins with spiel that contains lots of swear words, which makes me question whether his Gran is in the audience and he is trying to offend her, as it appears that juvenile. This is followed by fast and furious pop punk over which the vocalist is doing some screamy shouty vocals that alienate me immediately, his style is too raucous for me to gain a sense of what The Computers are all about.


The drummer is fantastic and gives tracks, which are essentially punk, a slight groove that can’t be easy to present. As the set proceeds, I become bored, which is temporarily relieved when there is a slight vocal melody demonstrating that they are capable of singing, furthermore, the harmonica provides even greater relief. Towards the end of the set, the main vocalist is out in the crowd and singing on top of the bar which stinks of nothing more than contrived antics not the genuine actions of someone so wrapped up in their music. I am still bemused as to why they are supporting The Duke Spirit as they couldn’t be further musically removed, however, some of the crowd seem to appreciate their efforts, just not me.

Finally, The Duke Spirit enter and all eyes are on lead vocalist, Liela Moss, who is adorned in a silver jacket and exudes so much energy that you couldn’t ignore her even if you tried.


The opening track is Into The Fold, taken from the album Neptune, whose upbeat pace draws the audience closer and sees heads nodding in appreciation. Unfortunately, the vocals are muffled in the mix but gradually they become more defined and demonstrate what a great sound this unit can make. A number of tracks from the set are taken from The Duke Spirit’s new album, Bruiser, which hasn’t been released yet and understandably these songs do not receive the same reception as the older songs.

Another marked difference is that the new songs appear to see the band stray into the waters of American indie, with a merging of sounds and instrumentation which loses the weight of their previous work. The exception being the beautifully crafted Villain, that sees Liela take to the keyboards presenting a tender melody supported by an intense underlying harmony, played sensitively by the rest of the band.


The Step and The Walk demonstrates Olly Betts ability to create a subtle tribal feel with his drumming that adds intensity, whilst the others emphasise the dynamics of the song. In direct conflict with The Computers, Liela’s onstage actions feel truly genuine representing her passion for the music which is utterly contagious. The main set draws to a close with the awesome Cuts Across The Land, that now sees the audience in the palm of The Duke Spirit’s hand, illustrating the greatness of their first album. After a brief interlude, the band return with Sweet Bitter Sweet and what has been overall a musically sensitive and dynamic set draws to a close with Love is an Unfamiliar Name. The driving repetitive rhythmic aspect of the song, with driving fuzzed guitars are complemented beautifully by building lyrics that add to the potency resulting in a well-considered and emotive finale.

Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Ian Dunn

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