Overall, it was a great concert, though I have to confess that about halfway through I got upset and angry over a personal issue over which I then quietly stewed to the point that I almost made myself sick. As a result of this, combined with the fact that my ears were starting to ring, I left the hall about an hour and a half into Duncan’s set, standing out in the bar/”bandstand” area watching and listening on the big screen television. Jeff came out a little later and joined me, and we watched a little more of the set together–and also were joined by a third person, who engaged us in an interesting conversation–before heading out at 10:30. At that point, Duncan was still playing, fully two hours after first taking the stage–and after having joined David Poe for two songs during the first set. Considering that the ticket prices were a cheap $17.50 to begin with, the long, excellent show was an incredible bargain as well.
I wasn’t familiar with David Poe before last night’s concert, but he was terrific; his musical style seemed pretty similar to Duncan’s, moody and raw, both of them perhaps even evoking Rufus Wainwright for me, though clearly at the other end of the Kinsey scale (which also plays into that other conversation to which I alluded earlier). His lyrics especially were quite compelling, containing some great imagery. I also discovered that he is a fellow flickrite; he even posted some photos he took last night, including some snaps of the crowd he took from the stage.
Duncan Sheik was fantastic. With the exception of a (well-executed) cover of Oasis’s “Wonderwall,” which despite his demurring he clearly made his own, and one or two other upbeat selections last night, he appeared to be eschewing the lighthearted pop sound of his early hit, “Barely Breathing” (which he didn’t perform, unless he did so after we left), for a darker, moodier, tone-poem feel that seems much more true and honest, but which may explain why he’s achieved critical more than commercial success and a smaller but very devoted following.
If I had any complaint about last night, it would be that the sound, once he was joined by three others on guitar, base and percussion, seemed extraordinarily loud for the intimate space at the Birchmere. Admittedly, that may be as much due to my own aging ears and tendency toward tinnitus after such concerts, though it did seem to me that the decibel level didn’t always mesh well with the lyrical style. Even so, there were some well-executed harder-rocking moments mixed into the set that worked really well, long instrumental overtures that washed over us like waves of emotion, moving me at times into almost a state of alternate consciousness before Duncan’s smooth husky voice would begin, all the more effective for its lengthy delay.
Oh, and it turns out that Duncan Sheik is a blogger.