Rick Witter and the Dukes
There were few bands as consistent and heroic as Shed Seven. Surviving shoe-gaze, britpop and finally bowing out with a gospel tinged final album in the face of nu-metal aggro, this was a band designed to bring smiles to faces at Indie discos and summer festivals the length and breadth of the country.
What people neglected to remember of course was that under the dance routines (disco down video) and beery laddishness was a charismatic frontman and some f*cking killer songs. Don’t believe me? Buy the greatest hits – ‘Chasing Rainbows’, ‘She Left Me On Friday’, ‘Bully Boy’, ‘Going for Gold’. All solid gold. All. One. After. The. Other.
So lets fast forward to 2006 and Rick Witter finds himself fronting a new band – The Dukes (featuring among others ex-Seahorses) and getting back to his roots on this the last in a nationwide run of dates to road test material for his solo debut album out later this year.
It’s clear from the number of S7 t-shirts in the crowd that there are many here on a nostalgia trip but not to be fazed, Rick leads his flock through a new set of surging, emphatic, urgent brit rock with arms flailing and hands held defiantly high. Witter hasn’t sounded or looked so pumped up in a very long time and the new songs (the majority of which make up tonight’s set) bounce and veer and throb with the fresh faced vigour of four very excitable puppies.
While inevitably it’s the older material that really gets the crowd going ( including a duet with audience member/occasional stalker, Simon on ‘Chasing Rainbows’) the new material really does strike a blow for Witter in the face of the new kid on the block (not THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK you understand). Frantic wah guitar breaks and breakneck riffs bustle and brush shoulders with pounding drums and bluesy trips to provide a muscular backing to Witter’s yelped frantic lyrical style.
To paraphrase our man, as he sums up before the encore – it’s a new band, a new record and a new challenge – but while Witter may not have anything to prove – you just get the feeling he will anyway.
Guest article from Ben M.
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