Friday, November 12, 2010
Patrick Duff / Kieran Goddard / Dust Motes @ The Hare & Hounds, Thursday 11th November 2010
Patrick Duff gigs are like buses. No, seriously, bear with me here a second. You wait years for one then he comes along and does two in the space of 6 months or so. Happily, unlike buses, Patrick doesn’t smell of wee, turn up late and then proceed to slam you around like a piece of meat in the back of a cattle truck. Where do bus companies get some of their drivers from eh...stockcar tracks? Jeez. Anyway, after recovering from a particularly violent journey on the loathsome number 11 (which now also seems to double as some kind of mobile mental health ward) I settled down to the Dust Motes. What’s a ‘mote’ I hear you ask...it’s actually a tiny particle. So here’s a band named after tiny particles of dust just floating about in the atmosphere. It’s actually quite a suitable name, given the fragile quality of their music and Dave’s gently understated vocals. Remarkably for these times the band don’t seem to have a website, MySpace page, Twitter account or any of the other thousand and one online faces that everyone’s supposed to have these days. Good on ‘em I say. Their music, like their microscopic namesakes, exists in the air for a moment then floats away into the ether making this performance really rather beautiful.
Next up Kieran Goddard, lead singer of local miserablists (that’s a good thing by the way) Mr Bones and the Dreamers. I’ve been a fan of the band for a while but tonight was the first time to hear pure 100% Kieran, revealing for the first time the true strength of that voice of his. It’s a seriously impressive thing, occasionally tremulous but clear and a strong at the same time...there’s something of a world weary angel about it. Most of the songs tonight were unnamed and being played for pretty much the first time but he did do a stunningly beautiful version of Jackson C Frank’s ‘Blues Run The Game’ (check Jackson out by the way...a really underrated artist). I loved the surreal inter-song ramblings too...riffing about the rights or wrongs of stealing money from wishing wells then throwing it in the sea in order to make female fish grow a penis (no, I’ve not been drinking...no more than normal anyway). You had to be there...
Finally Patrick himself (a Syd Barrett for the 21st Century?) took to the stage. Now with a full beard, thinning hair and Oxfam suit he’s a million miles away from the pin up Strangelove singer that no doubt melted a few teenage hearts in the 90’s. By his own admission he’s been through (and continues to go through) something of an emotional journey and this gig (like the other two solo shows I’ve seen him do) was part performance, part therapy session. If all that sounds a little self indulgent, it wasn’t. Patrick’s shows are all about sharing, exploring what makes us who we are....and that’s relevant to each and every one of us in the audience.
As with his last show he began by striking a huge gong by the side of the stage, gently at first then pounding it harder and harder, almost in a rage, gripping the mallet with both hands and putting his entire weight behind each furious blow. As opening numbers go it’s one hell of a way to shut people up. Then he settled down to deliver over an hour’s worth of candid chat and hauntingly beautiful music that’s clearly now being more flavoured by his Irish roots. He spoke at length about his teenage years and discovering drink at an early age. By 17 he was hanging outside an Off Licence in the St Paul’s district of Bristol at 7am, waiting in the drizzle for it to open so he could buy some booze to “have a good time”. Whilst he was waiting he heard a group of “Irish tramps” busking for money. Dressed in charity shop suits and banging cardboard boxes for percussion he thought they were “the coolest people in the world”. That single moment seemingly turned his life around and got him interested in playing music. They took him under their wing and he went on to busk the streets of Bristol for a while (which is where the rest of his band, Strangelove, discovered him I believe).
He also talked movingly about his dad, an Irishman with a love for a good tune. It seems that father and son hadn’t exactly seen eye to eye for a while but, about a year or so ago, Patrick was back in the family home just strumming away when his dad came into the room and started to play along with him. It was, recalled Patrick, just like the old man was passing on the baton of his musical heritage, inspiring a number of new tunes (one or two , including ‘Maria’ and ‘Danny’, heard for the first time tonight) with a bit more of a Celtic flavour. True to past form on several occasions Patrick went unplugged, moving away from the mic and singing much as he no doubt did back in his busking days. He couldn’t resist taking the piss out his old rock star status though, placing one foot on the monitor then pointing out what he’d just done with an ironic sigh in his voice.
Most of the set was made up from tracks from his stunningly great latest album ‘The Mad Straight Road’ with the Tom Waits-ian ‘Dead Man Singing’, ‘Spider Woman’ (prefaced by an honest admittance that his relationships with women will probably put him in an early grave) and the bleak, loping ‘one man against the world’ ode of ‘Poor Old John’ standing out as highlights. In amongst the darker stuff there’s a playfulness too, notably on ‘Three Little Monkeys’...the sort of number you can imagine in an old school Disney animation, giving me hope that, despite all his troubles, Patrick has now found some of the peace and happiness that he’s been searching so long for. Gigs like this are special, the intimate setting and openness of a truly great performer coming together to create something that’s a privilege to be part of. Coming just a day after The Irrepressibles' stunning St Martin’s show didn’t diminish this fact one iota...which is nothing short of a miracle and goes to prove what a rare talent this dude really is. Duff by name, inspirational by nature.