Darwin Deez – The Duchess, York, 19th October 2015 3

Darwin Deez – The Duchess, York, 19th October 2015

2N6A6743Darwin Merwan Smith just oozes talent; he can sing, he can dance, he can play guitar. And for 55 scintillating minutes he proves that he can do just about anything. This show may well be short on length, but it is certainly big on entertainment.

Smith is in York tonight with Darwin Deez. It is the fourth UK date in a huge, sprawling tour that will eventually take him and his band (both of whom, somewhat confusingly, share the same name) back over the pond before they wind up with a hometown gig just before Christmas in Smith’s native New York City.

The tour is a long celebration of Darwin Deez’s third studio album Double Down. Released last month it extends Smith/Deez’s reputation for taking the very essence of a contagious popular song and then twisting and turning it into something altogether more unorthodox. He has an almost innate ability to see what exists beyond a tune’s conventional structure before immersing it in the most infectious of grooves. As if like some form of osmosis, he absorbs a wide range of musical styles from soul to funk to indie-pop, mutating from Daryl Hall to Michael Jackson to Prince Rogers Nelson as he does so.

Following the first of a number well-choreographed dance routines – the sheer, 2N6A6639compelling simplicity of which surely have their genesis in those Jackson 5 signature moves of the 70s – the band launch into ‘You Can’t Be My Girl’ from Deez’s second album, Songs for Imaginative People. And from then until the glorious double-barrelled encore of ‘Constellations’ and ‘Bad Day’ – both songs bisected by yet another joyfully coordinated dance shtick – they just never stop. And all the while the emphasis is firmly on just having a rattling good time.

Taken from the new album, ‘Bag of Tricks’ and ‘Time Machine’ both hold great promise for a bright future for Deez but the evening’s stand-out, and what is still his strongest song is ‘Chelsea’s Hotel’. Another track from his second album, not only does the song illustrate Deez’s fierce grasp of melody but also his sharp insights into the human condition. It also showcases his burning desire to have been Jimi Hendrix as he unleashes one of the most blistering guitar solos this side of ‘Red House’. Quite why Darwin Deez is not a much bigger star is really anyone’s guess.


Photo credit: Simon Godley

The remaining UK tour dates are:

21 October – The Rainbow, Birmingham
22 October – Concorde 2, Brighton
23 October – Scholar, Leicester
25 October – Bodega, Nottingham
26 October – O2 Academy 2, Oxford
27 October – Islington Assembly Hall, London

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