"I didn’t realize I had so many friends in America…" Duffy (full name: Aimée Ann Duffy) had the U.K.’s best-selling record of 2008 in her debut Rockferry. It ‘only’ reached #4 in the U.S., so in the run-up to the transatlantic release of her follow-up, Endlessly, the songstress came to New York’s PC Richard and Son Theater to play an intimate, if short, show for iheartradio.com. While the upbeat pieces hit sweeter than the downbeat, and a cover might have been the best of all, Duffy has lots of friends in America.
The late-announced show, with invite/contest-winners only crowd at the small, exclusive PC Richard and Son Theater (QRO venue review) was certainly friendly ground for the Welshwoman. She said that she’d wanted to play small gigs like this to introduce her new album ("I’ve never had a second album before…"), and she played almost exclusively off of Endlessly, starting with its big pop/R&B single "Well Well Well". While some have pooh-poohed it as a single choice (including one fan who shouted, after "My Boy", that that song should have been the first single), it certainly worked live, especially as an opener, lighting up the crowd, Duffy, and her large, big-band ensemble behind her. "Well" and the sultry following "Keeping My Baby" brought Duffy’s bigger sound, but the sadder torch songs "Don’t Forsake Me" and "Endlessly", while sweet, need some familiarity before they can have full impact.
"My Boy" was a nice combination of the two styles, but it couldn’t help but be overshadowed by Duffy’s cover of Freda Payne’s "Band of Gold". Before the piece, Duffy told a charming little story of her difficulty in picking a cover to perform (ClearChannel had asked her to do one – there was a bit of an odd moment after Duffy mentioned the radio conglomerate, as she seemingly expected a cheer for Clear, but obviously didn’t understand the mixed emotions Americans have with today’s consolidated radio station ownership, especially a specific company that’s been the frequent subject of artist-inspired boycotts & such, most unlike the far more friendlier relationship music fans in Britain have with their diverse wireless band). It included her impression of Endlessly producer Albert Hammond (father of the guitarist from The Strokes) telling her to do this piece, in a gravelly, New Yorker/smoker voice. Duffy apologized for the song being so old, but then thought again and realized she could be introducing it to young fans, "Like that fourteen-year-old over there" – then added, as if she was the fan, "Oh no, I’m thirty-four. Good night…" Mixing Motown bump-and-grind with pop-diva, "Band of Gold" really made the night special.
If short. Duffy only had one more song ("I have to catch a train back to Wales…"), "Mercy", which did go big – and long. But the show was sweet & short – kind of like Duffy herself…
Duffy playing "Well, Well, Well" and "Mercy" live at PC Richard and Son Theater on November 3rd, 2010:
-photos: Chris Owyoung for iheartradio.com