After seeing Duffy this summer at Osheaga for a short set I was looking forward to seeing her headline her own show. I was pleased to see that in the meantime her time opening for Coldplay, appearing on Saturday Night Live and headlining her own North American tour has instilled plenty of confidence in this petite singer from Wales.
Opening up for Duffy was native Montrealer Chris Velan. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and plenty of foot pedals, he is one of those one man band type guys a la Howie Day and Liam Finn. Also, he possesses a voice that sounds like a mix between Tracy Chapman and Paul Simon. He just finished recording an album in San Francisco. Onstage in bare feet and a suit, he proceeded to entertain the crowd with his laidback style.
Duffy has been called the clean version of Amy Winehouse with her neo-soul sound. I think that is selling her a little short. Duffy has her own sound, is much more likeable and has a much bigger voice than Winehouse. There is no doubting either woman's talent, but it would be demeaning and wrong to say that Duffy is just riding on Winehouse's coattails.
On this night she also, due to her increased exposure,was much more relaxed on stage. With her Motown-style dance moves, cute banter and twirling of the microphone, Duffy finally seems to feel at home on stage. Within a few moments of taking the stage she had charmed the pants off everyone in attendance with her typically dry British sense of humour and cute personality. She is an interesting mixture of sass and vulnerability.
Speaking of the crowd they were an interesting mix of young hipsters and middle age folks who are thrilled to hear soul music being done again. It was a fun mix of people and a tribute to an artist who appeals to a wide range of people.
There is no debating that the 23-year-old possesses a huge voice. My only problem with it is that she sometimes overuses vibrato. Also, at times her voice was a little shrill, but rather than being annoying it was an effective way to convey the emotions of her songs. Her songs all have that old school soul sound to them that have you swaying to their rhythms. And plenty of people we dancing from note one. In large part that is due to her tight 6-piece band. They really are a bunch of talented guys.
An interesting note is that most of her songs are about being broken hearted, done wrong by a guy or dating a dud. Geez, you have to wonder about what kind of crap relationships this young lady has had. It seems like she has already started writing new material for a new album as she performed a couple of tunes that are not on her debut album, "Rockferry". "Rain on Your Parade", "Tomorrow" and "Breaking Your Own Heart" were sassy tunes that show that this girl is no one hit wonder.
The 60 minutes of her set flew by (logical as she only has one album) and I'm sure the next time this talented lady comes back to town it will be at a larger venue.
Chris Velan Setlist:
2) A Year Can Change a Lot
3) House on a Hill
4) Out of Range
5) May Your Get to Heaven
6) Hard Way Learner
7) The Oldest Trick
1) Syrup and Honey
3) Hanging On Too Long
5) Rain On Your Parade
6) Breaking My Own Heart
7) Warwick Avenue
8) Delayed Devotion
9) Stepping Stone
12) I'm Scared
13) Distant Dreamer