Week twenty three – Saw the Duke

Cast your mind back a few weeks to when I missed out on seeing a band called Shoot the Duke (https://www.facebook.com/shoottheduke/) by a mere harmonica’s chord. Just half a Johnny Cash cover was enough to sell me on them and so I resolved to try to see them play in full at the next available opportunity.

Friday evening, they were due to play at The Hobbit, a place I once loved, but have not had the opportunity to visit of late. I seized the chance and gathered a band of willing (ish) participants to come join me.

Before the live music started, we played a game of pool (turns out Jemma and I are both equally “skilled”). The first support act was a guy called Aaron Pearce. He had a very lovely voice, but man alive, his music was on the more sombre end of the musical spectrum. One song was good, two were bearable, but by the time he had completed a whole set of the same style, my Friday evening tiredness was kicking in. Oh yes, remember, it was FRIDAY EVENING. Probably not the best showcase for such music – try a rainy Sunday afternoon in a coffee shop.

Anyway, we were soon in a more upbeat mood when Daniel Eagle (https://www.facebook.com/Daniel.Eagle.Solo.Music/?fref=ts) came on. I’ve seen this guy before at various shows and he has a really powerful voice and great skill for song-writing; his songs tell engaging stories and have something interesting to say – just what I like in the music I listen to. Daniel seems to have a penchant for covers, many of which aren’t your usual supply of Ed Sheeran. He does a great version of ‘Three little birds’ – my abiding memory of Victorious Festival last year was singing along with that in the rain. This time we were treated to him being joined by a young lady with a fantastic voice to cover Estelle’s ‘American Boy’. Amazing.

I was very happy that they’d finished that before the fire alarm went off.

Yes, the fire alarm went off.

Obviously, no one moved to start with – music is more important right? But then common sense prevailed and we trooped outside to muster as required.

It was at this point that I started to think I was indeed destined to forever bypass Shoot the Duke. I refer you again to Week twenty when I was too late to see them. And now the show was stopped before we even got to performance time.

Stood out on the Bevois Valley pavement, with the summer rain beginning to fall, I was about to shake my fists angrily at the sky when I was saved. The strains of harmonica reached my ears, closely followed by the sound of strumming guitar and then the sound of palm on wood. The band were playing an impromptu song underneath the advertising hoarding on the corner of the road. The mustered Hobbit clientèle gathered around and we encouraged the musicians. Well, most of us encouraged. There were the odd dickheads causing issues. Where do these guys come from?

We embraced the random situation and, in true DIY spirit, made the most of it. I couldn’t hear very well, and I couldn’t see anything, but we had a little dance on the rainy pavement. Live music at its most unexpected.

I don’t want to get too hippy-like here as I was very much relieved when we were allowed to re-enter the drinking establishment. Once everyone was back in, Shoot the Duke took their rightful place on the stage, with equipment plugged in and microphones, and so I managed to see them play, finally.

And it was indeed worth waiting for. They are a great band with a very distinct sound. There weren’t many of us left to watch, but the band still put on a good show. It’s impossible not to stomp your foot in time with the music and get wrapped up in the heart-beat of the bluesy energy of the songs. The singer has a painful, raw earnestness to his words and the harmonica only adds to that. I started singing along to the country-style plucking of the duelling guitars which can only be a good thing.

Now we’ve got over our initial teething issues and the universe seems happy to let me watch them now, I think I shall have to get my dancing shoes on again for the next show. Fire alarm permitting.

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