Spector: The Duchess, 10/10/13
“Who was here the last time we played the Duchess? And the time before that? And the time before that? WELL YOU’RE LIARS, there was no time before the time before that. Can we get some security to deal with all the liars”. Spector’s Fred MacPherson is known as a divisive character, and when this is how you greet an audience it’s not hard to see why. Over a year on from Spector’s debut Enjoy It While It Lasts, he very much remains the unashamedly enthusiastic, sarcastic, self-deprecating yet utterly confident frontman I first discovered larking about in a white suit on Jools Holland. The polished aesthetic of the band is affected slightly by his now dishevelled long hair and the mug of tea he carries onstage but that is more than made up for by guitarist Jed Cullen looking like someone from Miami Vice (the 80s version that is) and bassist Tom Shickle spending the show prowling up and down the stage like the catwalk model he once was.
As a live act, Spector attempt to encapsulate the sort of hooks and lift-off choruses that made The Killers a really likable band for almost an album and a half. In truth, they do this extremely well. Handclap breakdowns and infectious vocal harmonies are ever-present and mean songs like opener ‘What You Wanted’, ‘Twenty Nothing’ and the huge ‘Chevy Thunder’ are highlights of a frenetic set. MacPherson himself made his intention of transporting the crowd twenty-four hours into the future clear before launching into ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’. However, this sort of Friday-feeling does occasionally wear thin. The more euphoric moments are lessened by the fact they are played alongside songs all struggling for the same anthemic status but not quite hitting the mark.
When things are slowed down, Spector show how capable they really are. ‘Grey Shirt & Tie’ and closer ‘Never Fade Away’ are subtler, more refined and provide a far better showcase for MacPherson’s often overlooked lyrics that, when given room to breathe, sparkle rather than sink into crowded arrangements. New track ‘Decade of Decay’ sounds instantly refreshing, revealing a darker, moodier side of Spector caught somewhere between the Horrors and New Order. The overall performance bodes well for the second album that should see the band avoid fulfilling the prophecy of their debut title ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’.
Spector play with a refreshing, unpretentious, genuine enjoyment of the music they make. They believe they’re the real deal and fortunately, MacPherson’s own charisma and magnetism (he was particularly delighted to receive a hand-crafted badge with his face on from a member of the audience) means you’re inclined to believe them. He puts on a very entertaining show – whether you like him or not.