Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dangerous Curves Ahead

As planned, we caught Duffy last night at Webster Hall and she did not disappoint. Wearing a tight red dress that accentuated her '50s pinup bod, the Welsh neo-soul singer opened with a stop-and-go rendition of "Syrup & Honey," carrying on a flirtatious getting-t0-know-you dialogue with the sellout crowd as she struck various come-hither poses. Her voice was flawless from beginning to end and what she lacked in personality she more than made up for in exuberance.
  The set list included all 10 songs from "Rockferry," plus "Tomorrow," the brilliant b-side of her megahit "Mercy" that is better than at least half of the actual album and another new one, and "Breaking My Own Heart." She also debuted a new song called "Rain on Your Parade" -- apparently slated as the single for an upcoming "expanded" re-release of "Rockferry" (it never ends!) -- but if I didn't know better I'd have sworn it was "Mercy" with alternate lyrics (or at the very least the "Quicksand" to Martha and Vendellas' "Heatwave"). Whatever the case, the crowd loved every second of it and so did we.
  I had an interesting conversation last week with a friend of mine who has been in bands since he was a kid and is on the brink of finally "making it" now that he's married and in his early 30s. (Rich's band -- the Dirty Pearls -- is really something.) I put making it in quotes because as we were discussing, what does it really mean to make it in music anymore? Getting signed doesn't really mean much these days (according to Rich) because no one sells CDs. And record labels aren't going to groom you or nurture you through a few albums until you "make it big" (Martha Davis told me over the summer how happy she is she started out under the old model -- and I think my friend dearly wishes it were around too). When I pushed back at Rich a little and said, "Hey, people still make it. Look at how big Duffy is." He said, "But how long will that last?" It's a good question and one I will be very curious to see through. Sure, she might be the one-album wonder type in either scenario (we don't know yet). But with her first major release coming out in 2008 -- unquestionably in the post-CD era -- it will be really fascinating to see how new artists maintain their star status in this iTunes and free music environment.


Whatever the future holds, being a great live performer is undoubtedly going to be a big part of the equation anymore. And on that front, Duffy has little to worry about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So jealous that you got to see Duffy at Webster Hall. I wanted to go, but had a conflict. Really, I could have worked it out and gone, but I was a bit disappointed in the SNL appearance. She seemed to be sort of bored with her material. And doing that swallowing the notes thing to make it sound like the record... Didn't care for that. But glad it was good!

Now, if you haven't heard Adele yet -- go to it. Of the whole Amy, Duffy Brit neo-soul girls thing, she's the best!