Live reviews

credit - M.Bancewicz

Graham Coxon [supp. Duels] – The Venue, Leicester University (27th March 2006)

I really shouldn't be here, half asleep, or half awake I made it to tonight's venue zombie like, but now the continual "thump-thump-thump" is pounding through my head, so I s'pose I'd better grin and bear it. The young band already striking a pose on stage as I arrived were Duels, remarkably the newly signed five piece to the once mighty 'Nude Records'. With expectations riding high on these guys, their highly charged erotic-pop, featuring fractured keyboards, pounding drums and ascorbic guitars, were captivating those who'd made it here early tonight to steal the best vantage point with which to see Graham Coxon, but barely after I'd got here, it was "thank you and good night...". It must've been 3 songs I'd caught, hardly enough to draw a representative conclusion, but enough to realise that Duels, complete with the faith and commitment of their label would be one to watch out for.

Having shelled out the quid for my Duels album sampler and now sipping a sugary, caffeine fueled cola, I sat at the back of the heaving venue to await the arrival of Mr Coxon's entourage and brave the ensuing barrage of sound. Considering what I'd already seen, I was starting to shake off that feeling of not being quite in my own body and enter into the spirit of the evening. 10 o'clock arrived, the witching hour for these proceedings and a pencil thin Coxon, clutching his telecaster ripped through our expectations. This geekish head of his four piece commanded our full attention, but did so with an utter ambivalence and sounding like the cockney king he had become. Frantically stroking his 6-strings, reminiscent of a teenager rehearsing his passage in his bedroom, the grating sound of the guitar's of lead and rhythm were more than met by the pounding of bass and drums, this was fast becoming a simply awesome show. With songs that ranged from those that stabbed like piss-holes in the snow, to others that acted as great heaving monstrosities of shear sound that would threaten to wake the dead.

The audience was like the music, a complete juxtaposition. Anything from those sporting gently receding hairlines, to others, fresh faced, with the badge of bum fluff at their chins, but under this roof they were all one. Occasional flashes of white light struck the stage, making the 3 musicians who were standing seem incredibly tall in the shadow that was cast. With 6 solo albums to his name, the band had a vast catalogue of songs from which to choose and although with a mind to count those performed tonight, the furious pace that the show soon descended into made this intention a hopeless one and wave after wave of 3 minute punk-pop songs soon passed, before I even cared to remember. Moments of shear vocal pleasure were displayed as Graham barked out the chorus to "I Can't Stand Your Skin" ('cos it's doing me in) and the now pogo'ing audience rode this moment as a single mass. The music would take a short break occasionally between songs, as the musicians took a chance to change guitars and the drummer to dislodge the ear wax in his right ear with his drum stick, before - thump - and they were back on track, silencing the cheering crowd. I'd admit to not fully appreciating just how incredible tonight's show would turn out to be, but at a ticket price of £14, it had probably better be, so after an hour an a half in total, would I come again? What do you think?

[Special thanks to Marg Bancewicz of Peripheral Anomaly, for the use of his photo from the the Sugarmill, Stoke on Trent earlier this month and to Jim and Kate of Duel for their cheery greeting following the show's conclusion. None of you will be forgotten.]

Nick James

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