It had all the makings for an exceptional evening of music – a red neon pentagram, psychedelically soulful guitars and glittering fairy lights illuminating amber bottles of whiskey. But Duke Garwood’s show at The Slaughtered Lamb fell short of expectation.
The Slaughtered Lamb lends itself to a bacchanalian atmosphere, as Duke Garwood stood bathed in the red glow of the pub’s logo as he started with The Gods In My Shoes. A set where each song wants to move easily to the next was interrupted by prolonged guitar tunings and indistinct mumblings to the audience. Once those bumps were smoothed out, however, Garwood was free to impress.
His music falls like fog on the listener and seems to pour out of him with ease, creating a distinctly sleepy atmosphere. Gig-goers wavered side to side on their feet with each beat of the bass drum. Amidst the classics like Mellow Tucker Lady, soon-to-be-released Honey In The Ear stood out with it’s plucking guitar and repetitive refrain. It was clear that some were simply waiting to hear Heavy Love, and as such attention was diverted to mobile phone screens through the other songs, which was a shame.
What Duke Garwood has, that made the gig worth sitting through, is a slick ease to his playing. It’s hard to separate one song from the next when he’s on stage (save for a couple of pauses) and instead the whole set comes off as a compilation of the highlights of his decade long career. He delighted with Heavy Love, finally giving a heckling couple what they wanted, as his penultimate song. Garwood did more than play music, he crafted an entire environment out of his sound, one that harkened back to the manic days of psychedelic rock n’ roll.
Garwood demands intimacy, to his music and his performance, and The Slaughtered Lamb was not designed for that; being small doesn’t equate to closeness. Some may have enjoyed the warped guitars, growling blues vocals and the heartbeat bass drums from a safe distance. Those coming for a musical epiphany, which Garwood can inspire, were left wanting.
(MAIN IMAGE: Steve Gullick)