Monday, July 28, 2003

CHIN CHIN, TIN TIN: Karl writes to us, with experiences of seeing the bloke who we still think of as the One True Duran Singer at his local Borders:

I've just got back home from seeing Stephen Duffy at Borders on Oxford Street so, in lieu of anyone else to wax lyrical to, I figured it may be of (possibly limited) interest...

The last time I went to an in-store appearance at Borders was at the very least surreal, with Michael J Sheehy singing songs about threesomes and Catholic guilt in the childrens' books section while indignant parents shook their collective heads. This time at least the event had moved upstairs to the music department.

The first thing that struck me about the man himself was how incredibly young he looked; and that he was somewhat amusingly, and no doubt purposefully, wearing a lilac coloured t-shirt. After a ten-minute delay due to 'technical problems' (because one man and an acoustic guitar can apparently have technical problems) Duffy was introduced as a 'folk-rock singer'. After saying hello and setting the scene by saying he'd sing us something, he asked if we wanted an old song or a new one. Unsurprisingly, the gathered throng of 40 or so people opted for an oldie, and 'The Girl Who Waved At Trains' was played, slowed down and turned into something much more beautiful than the jangly-indie style of the original.

He was obviously very nervous to begin with, but soon relaxed. He talked to the crowd, and asked why we were all 'gathered here tonight'. Answering thequestion himself, it was for some 'point-of-sale entertainment'. The new songs sounded as heart-breakingly wonderful as anything I've heard him do,and although I haven't listened to the new album yet, I guess it's got to be on the ever increasing 'must-buy' list. I just hope the beauty of the songs is captured with a full-band backing.

Forgetting the words to 'Family Coach', it was replaced in the set by 'Mayfly', the closest Duffy got to a proper rock song. He ended with 'She Freak' and then had an encore of 'Forest Brown.' Quite why he or Borders thought an encore was necessary is irrelevant, it prolonged the set by three minutes or so, and that's good enough for me!

All in all, it was a good mixture of the old and the new, he played to an appreciative audience for 50 minutes and, despite an empty threat, didn't play anything from his Nigel Kennedy collaboration. What more can you ask for?

We loved this. It's also interesting how Borders is slowly becoming almost the 6Music to Virgin and HMV's instore Radio One - and it's a lot nicer seeing an instore in a well designed, airy store like Borders than the horribly cluttered Mobile Phone and PS2 besmirched megastores. Plus you can get coffee in there, too, which is nice. Just so long as there's no criticism of the US President's legs, and everything will be fine.

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