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– THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

Sometimes a gig is just a gig, but on other occasions they can be much much more. Tonight’s sold out performance on the top floor of The Deaf Institute is by far, the latter of the two!

Before Peter Wilson, A.K.A Duke Special and his percussionist ‘Temperance Society’ Chip Bailey show themselves at around 9.30pm, it would appear that Steptoe and Son have emptied a trailer load of junk onto this miniscule stage.

Items such as pots and pans, a big bunch of keys and an old white plastic record player. All of these are in fact played and used throughout the show.

As this seemingly shy showman takes his place at his piano and begins his first song, the crowd, which includes variations from pensioners right through to the pink haired and tattooed, fall deathly silent as if they have been put under a spell.

By the time he reaches his third song ‘Sweet, Sweet Kisses’, he is joined by percussionist Bailey.

The sound this charismatic duo create, is frankly beautiful and amazing; it is guaranteed to put a smile on the most miserable of faces. Audience participation is called upon many times in the course of the evening. This works really well as there seems to a warm affinity between the Duke and his followers.

If you think his self-described “hobo-chic” appearance is strange, his vaudeville-esque antics between songs will have you both bemused and intrigued.

One of these moments, sees him pacing along on top of the bar ringing a bell, whilst a record of religious spoken word is played. Another that stands out, is when Bailey takes over the stage to treat us to a percussion solo.

This may not seem anything out of the ordinary, until you see that his choices of instruments are in fact an egg whisk and a cheese grater.

It is well past the one-hour mark and we have been given some truly breathtaking songs, such as ‘Digging An Early Grave’ and also the snappily entitled ‘Those Proverbs We Made In Winter Must End’. Both of which are taken from his latest album ‘I Never Thought This Day Would Come’.

Just when we thought our evening was coming to a close. Our Duke informs us, that he and his upright piano are to hijack the open mic night in the downstairs bar.

As many people as possible are now crammed into this smaller area, but nobody seems to mind the limited space, as we are given five more instalments before our night is over.

Simon Zaccagni

‘Accidental Editor’ None of this was planned; I’ve never been in a band, never been part of the ‘music scene’ and never expected to be the gaffer of a music website with loads of dedicated music loving writers. I bought my first record when I was 8 and haven’t stopped buying since. I love crate digging for bizarre and weird stuff, but equally happy ploughing through press releases looking/listening for something I’ve never heard before.