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Duke Special, Auntie Annie's
The next couple of months are going to be a busy time for Peter Wilson as he takes Duke Special on tour opening up for The Beautiful South and Divine Comedy across the UK and Ireland.

As a way of warming up for this 'new adventure', the gramophone is out and takes pride of place on a diminutive stage at Auntie Annie's, barely big enough to hold the Chip Bailey's egg whisk, little alone, the full range of the Duke's percussion section!

It was a case of get there early, as word of the impromptu, low-key gig had clearly got around quickly. Those who turned up late were disappointed as many were turned away, but for those lucky enough to get into the intimate venue a musical treat was in store. This evening's rather multi-cultural proceedings gets underway with soulful ballads from Polish keyboard player Chris Maliniski and then by way of New York's, Pixie Saytar on guitar. Both acts receive generous applause from an appreciative crowd.

Duke Special is joined on stage tonight with Ben Hales (percussion, guitar, bass, vox) Ben Castle (clarinet, sax) Paul Wilkinson (percussion, guitar, bass, vox) and of course Chip Bailey (percussion, drum kit, whisk, grater, etc). Duke launches into 'Everybody Wants a Little Something'. It's a mixture of old a new tonight: 'This Could Be My Last Day', 'Brixton Leaves', 'Wake Up Scarlett', 'I Let You Down', 'No Cover Up' and 'Quiet Revolutionary' all get an airing tonight. We also get treated to what are rapidly becoming Duke classics such as 'Last Night I Nearly Died', and 'Freewheel' as well as the new single 'Portrait.' The Amazing Pilot's own song 'Slip Of A Girl' also goes down well with the audience.

"It's weird to be playing in front of lots of people," Duke tells the audience, after spending most of the preceding weeks rehearsing for the up-coming road-trip. What would be stranger if any of us would be lucky enough to catch Peter Wilson in a venue as small and intimate as Auntie Annies again in the foreseeable future; bigger things surely beckon!

Perhaps the highlights of the evening are two cover versions. Razorlight's 'Stumble and Fall', recorded last year as a B-side, and a rendition of the Doors classic 'People Are Strange'. "People are strange, when you're a stranger," sings Peter. I guess fans of the Divine Comedy and the Beautiful South, unfamiliar with the work of the Duke may find the whole Duke Special entourage rather strange on first glance; but it's hard not to imagine he'll win many of them over with his infectious charm and unimposing charisma, not to mention, his belting tunes!

Trevor Gordon
Photo by Keith Wilson
Duke Special, Auntie Annie's, Belfast. 11.9.06

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