Friday, August 15, 2008

Duffy at "All Points West", Liberty State Park, NJ

Liberty State Park, NJ,
August 8 '08

I met Angus at what used to be the Righa Royale Hotel but is now The London NYC, a faux-trendy, tourist joint in midtown looking for a vibe. The ‘English’ breakfast, which consisted of 2 eggs, half a small tomato, 1 rasher of bacon, half a mushroom and a table-spoon of homefries (w/toast) cost $22. The rooms ($500/night but cheaper the longer you stay) are comfortable and clean but the place has an antiseptic, hopeless air about it and it certainly wasn’t as fun (or cheap) as when John Lydon held court in the bar. We binned the idea of the $30 trans-Hudson ferry-ride from Wall St in favour of the Path Train ($1.50) and the Light Rail ($4 round trip) from Exchange Place, where we had lunch. Marianne Nowottny works nearby, so since she made the North Fork Sound Top 20 last week, she was happy to do an ID for the station. We got to the festival site and it immediately started to rain. Luckily, Angus was hooked up with all the necessary backstage passes, so we hung out under a tent until about 4.30 when it was time for Duffy to play. I told you about her back in March, when she played her NYC debut at the Hiro Ballroom and, in fact, North Fork Sound was the first internet station in the US to play 'Mercy', back in February. As she took the stage, the sun came out and she delivered a short set – Rockferry, Hanging On Too Long, Serious, Warwick Avenue, Breaking My Own Heart, (Bert Berns') Cry To Me, Delayed Devotion, Stepping Stone, Tomorrow and Mercy – to a crowd of about 1,000 curious people, most of whom were there (I imagine) to see Radiohead later that day. She didn’t play Distant Dreamer, which was a damn shame because it just might be one of the greatest tunes ever written, but her voice sounded fantastic, she looked like a young Brigitte Bardot and, since her chart successes, she’s a lot more confident on stage than she was a few months ago. The first time she said “how are you doing, New York?” it was mildly amusing and quite forgivable, as we were in NJ and NY itself was on the other side of the river, serving as her backdrop. After the 6th or 7th time, it smacked of Spinal Tap. Go here and click on the 'slideshow' icon for some more pictures.
We saw a tiny bit of CSS - who will
only be remembered for their tragic fashion sense - and then caught part of Underworld’s set. Their thumping beats flew around the park and made me nostalgic for a mind-altering substance so we made for the 'beer pens' where, with ID, you got a wristband that allowed the purchase of 5 beers (total) at $7 each (or $9, if you wanted Stella) in a plastic cup. In the pen, we ran into Matthew Kaplan, attorney for nearly every indy artist/label worth a crap and the gal who books London’s Royal Festival Hall, Jane Beese, who was on vacation. As dusk fell and lower Manhattan's skyline and Miss Liberty twinkled in the background, Radiohead took the stage and proceeded to suck all the joy out of the air. Quick, someone give these guys a Bo Diddley record. Ok, so the lights were nice, but you can’t hum a filament or dance to a red wash so I just stood there wondering what it must be like, being a Radiohead fan. I wonder how their suicide rate compares with, say, Cramps fans. To be fair, everybody (including Angus) enjoyed them a lot so I guess my boring ol' fart status jumped up a notch or two and eventually, we snuck onto the ferry, neither of us feeling much like the 2 1/2 mile circuitous trek back to the Light Rail. Huw Gower called to say he was at Terminal 5 where the Stooges were about to play and as I was getting more info, the fellow walking in front turned around and said in an Australian accent "I’d recognize that voice anywhere" and there, fresh from Japan, was Curry Clubber and promoter/label owner/entrepreneur and all-round good guy, Ray Hearn, with his lovely Japanese g/f and his son. We all thought about The Stooges for about 10 seconds but decided on soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown instead and that, pretty much, wrapped up a very good day.

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