An edited version of this review first appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post.
On his first visit to Nottingham two years ago, Sam Duckworth played to a scattering of sweaty punters upstairs at the Old Angel. Last night, performing as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. (no, me neither) to a capacity crowd, he faced his largest headline audience to date. Not bad going for a 20 year old whose debut album briefly grazed the lower end of the charts last autumn.
Although barely registering on the radar of anyone over 25, Duckworth’s student-based audience displayed a hearty familiarity with his lyrics, which reflect the concerns of his generation in a way that is almost without precedent in today’s decidedly smug musical climate. (*) Unashamedly political and idealistic, his songwriting and performance style hark back to the traditions of the protest singer – but with a contemporary sound that mixes acoustic and electronic elements in a fresh, invigorating way.
At the back of the stage, each intricate, skittering backing track was synchronised to video footage, and fleshed out by a two-piece brass section and an outstanding drummer. Up front, a wide-featured, chubby-cheeked Duckworth (**) proved to be an able, articulate performer, radiating an understated yet unmistakable charisma.
Between numbers, we were variously urged to buy from fair trade suppliers, to campaign against racism, to boycott unauthorised merchandise sellers (***), and to shun the dubious and exploitative agendas of reality TV.
Give Duckworth an early evening slot at Glastonbury (****), and there’ll be no stopping him. Just you wait and see.
(*) Flippant example, enthusiastically roared back at him by the studey throng: “You don’t need a degree, to deconstruct this melody.” That’s the undergraduate market sewn up, then…
(**) Anyone remember Danny from Supergrass? He looked like Danny from Supergrass. In the old days. But without the mutton-chop sideburns.
(***) Successfully, as it turned out – particularly since the Capester explicitly linked the sale of unauthorised merchandise with cheap labour and funding for the drugs trade. He even offered a part exchange with his official merchandise, for anyone who had already made a purchase. As we left the venue, not one single person so much as stopped and looked at the dubiously sourced tat on offer. Consumer power in action! I’ll bet the street price of smack-n-crack has, erm, shot up. Hell, they’ll have to recoup their costs somehow.
(****) Much like David Gray in 2000, but this time with a point and a purpose. Imagine that!