David Ford / Duke Special - Liverpool Academy 2 - 09.02.06

The piercing, dreadlocked Belfast pianist and gramophonic manipulator; Peter Wilson must have been offered many a fiver to name himself Swampy, but he chooses to go under the more mysterious guise of Duke Special, in order to purvey his colourful and crafted art. His mournful and poetic side came flowing out in; ‘Brixton Leaves’ that possessed enough mundane worldliness to possibly earn him the title of being the Philip Larkin of music. A sumptuously titled offering ‘I let You Down Like Lead Weight’ juxtaposed a flowery melody with cynical subject matter, something that has been a trademark of Tom McRae for sometime.

The stage filled up like the eyes of many a listener to Wilson’s music, as David Ford and his talented backing pair sauntered into view to join in on the action for the stirring ‘Portrait’. This offering this contained some Pringle (crispiest of the crisp) backing vocals from the delectable Jo, making for a peaceful  tone with a wandering direction. Highlight offering on a breezy set was the dark humoured mowtown skirting; ‘Last Night I Nearly Died, (But I Woke Up Just In Time)’ and was a forum for Peter’s piercing and troubled poetic style. The number featured a lingering Aqualung style piano accompaniment; ensuring that the Duke Special’s sound would also linger in the mind of gatherers tonight.

David Ford has obviously been on a soul searching journey since his Easyworld days, as he playfully paraded numbers from his stern and stirring ‘I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I Have Caused’ album. Scything defiance showed up Ford’s strength of character in the slow rising ‘I Don’t Care What You Call Me’, providing a poignant period early on. The latter number saw the caressing backing of Frances Law, entering the fold and a throbbing double bass element was also included to give a blues tinge to matters.

Flowery lyrics and sincerity grew into the proceedings when the mercurial Ford built up emotion and crossed the usual artist/crowd divide to add intimacy to the set.. Joseph Arthur styled sampling and a crashing piano concealed within ‘State Of The Union’, added buoyancy towards the end with the main man prowling the stage like a hungry hunter. A calming and compassionate rendition of ‘If Only You Knew’ that is Ford’s feel-good factor was introduced by him exclaiming;  if you were aware of how others felt about you, then you might realise “that maybe you are not as shit as you sometimes think you are”.

 A tale about people who leave small towns to seek glitz, glamour and God knows what else, only to return years later with their tail between their legs portrayed via; ‘Laughing Out Loud’ left people appreciating what they have in life. A commanding performance was extended because of the crowd’s jubilance. This searing singer/songwriter left an indelible impression tonight and was graciously applauded for doing so.

David Adair

Click here to leave your David Ford comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)