December 13, 2008


She's red hot, but her soul is strictly sanitised: Despite powerful pipes, Duffy fails to catch fire like the vintage singers she apes (Kitty Empire, 12/14/08, The Observer)

Arrayed across the back of the stage, along with some of Duffy's six-piece band, is a string section, who play us in with vigour. A sparkly dais sits in front of the musicians, awaiting 5ft 2in of Welsh wind power. After a few bars of 'Rockferry', Duffy finally sashays on - her heels the stuff of chiropractors' nightmares, her little red dress the stuff of confectioners' nocturnal fantasies. She looks like a predatory bonbon. The scene could be Vegas or Paris or any TV studio in 1964; you half expect Dick Clark - the plastic host of the vintage US TV show American Bandstand - to appear stage right, applauding wildly.

Mindful of injury, Duffy picks her way purposefully across the stage. She keeps her voice teasingly in check for a couple of verses, then finally lets rip on the key change, stripping the paint off the circle. An appreciative shiver runs through the crowd, a mix of ages, genders and sexualities that attests to the commercial reach of this retro diva.

A year of hard touring has done nothing to blunt the force of Duffy's pipes; if anything, they have become more steely. As a performer, she is more polished too, swinging her microphone around like a handbag while the band take a rare solo. There is little movement to her - just an arm, aimed at the sky or the floor, or a pert bottom wiggle.

She leaves the dancing to two limber men in suits, who - sadly - don't lift Duffy up and carry her around as they would in an old-fashioned musical number. In a recent interview Duffy told of her plans for a Forties-themed party, celebrating an era when men 'were men' and women were 'all tits and teeth'. She is reviving the latter half of that tradition with gusto.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 13, 2008 10:29 PM
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