Duke Special  - Manchester Academy 3 - 13.5.07

On his second trip to Manchester in the space of three months, a more brooding and structured feel to the set is given by virtue of the new numbers on display. Whilst this is still quite a humble setting for someone with such a deft touch for delivering prosaic lyrics with tingling feeling and belief, the crowd shuffles forward and makes the most of the cosy and tight knit setting.

Using his archaic piano to complement the whistling acoustics, an atmospheric vibe is created immediately. Drawing largely upon material from his masterfully swooning debut album ‘Songs From The Deep Forest’, the Duke builds up a lush ambience that hides the often mournful and aching lyrics that are delivered with theatrical forcefulness. This is no better demonstrated than by the playful piano striding ‘Brixton Leaves’. The hovering vocals of ‘Freewheel’ linger in the air and create warmth, as Wilson really gets into his stride for his most positive veined offering of the evening.

Reverence is given through the earthy material to the likes of Tom McCrae, Steve Earle and even Keane, with the former influence shining in the sprightly ‘No Cover Up’. The reaction of the crowd to each jolt of hearty soulfulness and, at times, bitter reflection is one appreciation shrouded in awe. This is something that is magnified after the wistful ballad of ‘Slip Of A Girl’ is unleashed. The percussion of Chip Bailey nudges along the often lingering accompaniment and takes on extra force, in the philosophical new single ‘Last Night I Nearly Died (But I Woke Up Just In Time)’.

With the backing of a major label behind him (V2 Records), Peter Wilson has grown in confidence, as the mysterious and meek figure that opened for David Ford a year ago, was unrecognisable. The belief in what he does and his sincerity shines out tonight and helps to make for an engaging evening of honest musicianship, from one of the industry’s remaining great characters. Tonight, Peter Wilson shows that you can jump on the wagon of a major label and retain your integrity and pride.

David Adair


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