LIVE: Duke Special – A Victorian Christmas
The festive season is now well and truly upon us and to bring his year-long residency at The Belfast Empire to an end, Duke Special presented ‘A Victorian Christmas’- a show that differed from that of a conventional gig as it saw him play ‘In The Round’ (on a small stage, surrounded by the audience) with a selection of guest musicians joining him at various intervals to help put their own unique spin on well known Christmas songs.
The packed Empire is a testament to the enduring popularity of Duke Special and by the very nature of the set up, tonight’s show seems more of a gathering of friends than a gig per se. To help open the night’s proceedings were the Shellac DJs, spinning a range of vintage tunes to help set the vaudevillian tone as the audience arrive.
When Duke Special takes his seat at the piano in the middle of the sizable crowd, the show begins in earnest, and it’s cheerful Christmas fare. The tunes for the night are mix of sing-along cover versions or his own Christmas themed personal choices such as ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham, ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17, ‘Its Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas’ by Half Man Half Biscuit, Christmas Unicorn’and Harry Nilsson’s ‘Coconut’ all mixed in with his personal material including ‘Andrew In Drag’ and an yet untitled song written as a result of a charity collaboration with a fan.