The Duke Spirit + Jack Ladder @ The Zoo

Jack Ladder, recent Australian Music Prize runner-up and recipient of the Red Bull Prize of $15,000 “in recognition of outstanding potential”, is an unlikely support act for 60’s R&B influenced The Duke Spirit.  Playing solo without his normal band and with just an acoustic guitar he possesses a deep, rich voice that evokes Bob Dylan and Tom Waits at their most world-weary. It is a strangely seductive voice, definitely one that is an acquired taste but one that can be acquired within a few songs of him singing. 

His between song banter is very awkward though, which takes some of the gloss of his overall performance.  Having never seen or heard him before it will be interesting to see how his musical career progresses now that he has the additional benefit of a major national music award to help promote himself.  He’s been included on the first announcement for this year’s Splendour In The Grass festival, presumably for the McLennan Stage, so it will be good to see him (presumably) with a full band backing him and interesting to see how he goes down with the Splendour crowd.

The Duke Spirit are blighted by another night of muddy sound at The Zoo, although it doesn’t really spoil an excellent show, with the band seeming delighted to be there and their excitement evident throughout.  Somewhat strangely, unlike typical headlining performances at The Zoo, no one is pressed up against the stage, with the audience forming a semi-circle around the front, something that usually gets seen during unknown support bands when no one wants to commit fully to the experience, but not usually for headline bands.  

Leila Moss, The Duke Spirit’s singer, does the whole elfin look with aplomb and looks sensational in her short shorts, but, somewhat depressingly, she is one of those people who just “sing ugly”; she has a tendency to either purse her lips so that her philtrum forms a pronounced and unflattering ridge or sings in a way that makes her lips disappear.  Either way, it doesn’t do justice to her obvious attractiveness.  The lights are on but after the first song are asked to be turned way down by Moss, and, so with the band skulking around in the dark reaches of The Zoo’s stage, there’s a disappointing lack of good photos after the first three minutes, which is a real shame.

Some more photos on flickr.

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