Duke Special, The Opera House
It's a perfect combo: Duke and the Opera House. The velour and the gilding, the drapes and the drama. Some young chaps, high up the boxes are wearing evening dress while I spy the occasional glint of opera glasses, checking out the Duke's domain. Metaphorically at least, we're waxing our moustaches and anticipating a capital night.
We're been primed by a drag act, getting bold with the double entrendres and by Iain Archer with a well-fashioned new song (All I Want) and the ever-beautiful Holywood Sea Park. The piano is lit with candles, a spare bass drum becomes a makeshift film screen and the music stands are loaded with new arrangements.
The five piece brass section is blowing up a dream, taking Slip Of A Girl on a tour through Glen Miller's In The Mood. Later, Peter will lead the team into Chaka Khan's I Feel For You, mind-bendingly out of context. There are outbursts of tympani and Portrait is resplendently rag-time. Tonight's version of Catfish is delivered with Beth Rowley, who sings good-bad jazz in a husky manner.
The frivolity is quelled for Kill Me Quickly Please, as the Duke strikes matches and lets them burn to the quick. We feel his pain, for sure. And finally they reassemble to troop out Our Love Goes Deeper Than This, with an overture that's practically Gershwin. And why shouldn't it be? The Duke can excel at just about anything, any place.
Photos by Alan Maguire