I'd be surprised if I was the only one who feels as if Sam Duckworth has been lost to the masses. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly gigs were once personal, friendly affairs, but they have now grown to involve a full band and a crowd of screaming fans with camera phones.
My girlfriend won tickets to this private gig, which was part of Xfm's All Day Breakfast festival, and was broadcast live. We headed in to the tiny basement of the Fly just before lunch-time to claim our spot at the front before the 100-odd other winners arrived. By the time the support had finished, the place was packed with people eager for Duckworth's laptop-aided acoustic folk. The show started up with the extended intro to "Chronicles Part 2", to which the crowd unfortunately responded with indifference. Sing-alongs were minimal, with only a few of us dedicated enough to join in on every number we knew. The dancing was nonexistent, too, so all the energy came from Duckworth himself, who played, sang and hopped about for the stationary crowd.
His new album, Searching for the Hows and Whys, is filled with horn and string sections, and is much fuller and more ambitions than his debut, The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager. Sadly, the tiny stage didn't have space for other musicians, so the whole set was run off a laptop. The new songs felt slightly hollow without a live accompaniment, and the old material fared much better when compared with the versions on the album, with new, improved laptop parts.
The best moments were unexpected, when Duckworth set the laptop aside and called for requests. I groaned when half the venue immediately called for "I Spy" – worried, for some reason, that he would not play his most popular single. So I did my best to make my voice heard and request "If I had £1..." (which he claimed to no longer remember) and "Once More with Feeling".
Other surprises included a brilliant cover of the Chicago punk band Alkaline Trio's "Radio" as part of his extended encore. This not only demonstrated Duckworth's punk roots, but also how his rough-sounding voice can, on occasion, make him sound incredibly angry. Requests for numbers by the Brooklyn hardcore act Gorilla Biscuits and the west London pop band Tellison were ignored in favour of a song written the day before.
It's been a while since I saw a full Get Cape live show. It may not compare with the old days, but Duckworth is clearly in his element singing his heart out in a tiny room. A great experience.
Rob Evans, student, NorthamptonReuse content