Music review: Duke Special at The Venue, Abbey Street, Derby
St Patrick’s Day came early to The Venue in Abbey Street, Derby, last week in the form of the beautiful and intoxicating one man spectacle that is Duke Special.
A fantastical fusion of Tim Minchin’s lyrical humour and Dylan Moran’s dry Irish wit, his waist length dreadlocks and dusty suit set the scene for what would be a feast for the eyes, ears and funny bones.
This would not be a show in which the audience would be sold short – Duke Special, real name Peter Wilson, had a bag of tricks as vast as his cheeky Celtic charm.
A beautifully disguised digital piano took centre stage behind a wooden varnished frontage with piles of song sheets and music books sitting on top. This was not however a vintage touch for aesthetic pleasure. The lyric sheets would be passed around the crowd by the regal vagabond himself ready for a right royal and thoroughly old fashioned sing-a-long - not that many of the crowd needed them, for The Duke’s fans are very much of the diehard variety. Indeed I was slightly red-faced at my limited knowledge of his lyrical repertoire and incredibly jealous I missed out on a song request.
The set towed a magical line between an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and a mythical Disney villain and was punctuated by often poignant and always funny anecdotes about the songs in question.
With a separate microphone set up for his winding musical tales the show was as much a retro nod to story-telling as it was a gig.
We were told of commercial photography’s part to play in the demise of the art of picture taking as well as a socialite’s chequered romantic endeavours.
The crowd was completely putty in The Duke’s hands – his old school showmanship something truly special.