On Friday night Flying V Productions presented Cuff The Duke as they made their way back to the Grad Club for now what it seems their yearly visit. For the opening band tonight they brought along Odd Years which was pretty much mostly Cuff The Duke.
The night started a little later than shows normally do at The Grad Club, but with only two bands on the bill the music didn’t get started a few minutes after ten thirty. Right away when I looked at the stage when I walked in all I could see was the curious looking microphone stand that Aj was using. The mannequin arm was quite an amusing prop for the band. Their sound was a great mix of Country, Bluegrass, Pop and Rock and a bit of Blues thrown in their as well. They were playing songs mostly off of their album Drawing Lines. Starting off the night they played “Sleep”, they made is quite apparent quickly that they are a guitar, bass hook driven band with the keys thrown in at all the right times. The guitar hook and bass hooks in the song instantly got everyone’s attention at the Grad Club and brought them a little closer to the stage. Aj’s vocals throughout the set really brought out the pop, rock sound in the band, and the piano and guitars helped bring out the rock, blues and country sound. Going into their second song “The Landlord” it was Thomas Hammerton on the keys for the first thirty or so seconds in the song, if you are a fan of The Golden Dogs then you will definitely dig this song. Throughout “The Landlord” I couldn’t really stop paying attention to the keys in the song, the combination of the drums and keys sounded great together. When they first started into “Take” a little later into their set, the opening riff instantly brought the sounds of Sloan to life. The simple riff really stood out throughout the song and was leaned on a few key moments in the song. I wasn’t so big on the tempo change of the song they should have kept the power of the song going throughout, Odd Years did however finish the song off strong. To finish off their set they went with the first song off the album “Odd Year” and what a catchy pop tune to go out on. Starting off with a drum beat followed by a catchy guitar riff is all this song needed to break the audience in one last time, luckily this wasn’t going to be the only time that we got to hear the intro riff in the song as it played again later on in the song. The pop sounding vocals from Aj really added the right effect to the song, then cue to the fadeout to finish off the song and their set.
This is the sixth time now that I have watched Cuff The Duke play live in Kingston and I will make sure I am around to see them play again. Tonight we got an incredible list of songs from their entire catalogue, but my favourite “The Ballad Of Poor John Henry” got left off the list, but no biggie Cuff The Duke easily made up for it with their extensive list. Starting the set off they choose to go with “Blackheart” which fit right into the intro that Wayne started off with before they began to play. Quickly and easily Wayne’s vocals rang out throughout The Grad Club, The “Echoing” backing guitar work from Francois put such a great filling sound in the room as his guitar bounced off the walls. Quickly picking things up and showing us a sample of what were in store for the rest of the night the guys went into “Time Is Right”. Quickly this song had people dancing throughout the Grad Club, I would have liked to say packed the front of the house but everyone for some reason wanted to stand back from the stage tonight, which worked for me in a sense this way I didn’t have to battle for spot all night like a normal Cuff The Duke show.Tthe lead guitar work in the song could sing for itself, and this was only a quick sample for what they had in store for lead guitar work. Throughout their set they would break away from a song a little bit and showed everyone in the Grad Club what the live version of Cuff The Duke is all about. The precision use of their whammy bars really put out that extra touch and made everyone’s ears perk up that little bit more. Francois really absolutely left me stunned and eyes gazing as he simply nailed many difficult guitar parts throughout each song. The third song “Count On Me” which is my second favourite song from Cuff The Duke. Every time they play this song it is always the vocals that shine over everything else, especially in the chorus. It took a few songs before they got into playing songs off of Union, with the first song being “All I Want”, the higher pitched vocals at the start of the song took a few seconds to get used to. The combination of the guitars and piano had a really great sound and vibe. Thom had a nice easy going piano solo/lead in the song. To finish off the first set they played one song that Wayne usually mentions Queens University in “Take My Money and Run”. I don’t think there was one person who didn’t join in on singing the lyrics to the song if they didn’t join in on the verses then they definitely joined in on the chorus with Wayne. As the band left the stage there was a cry for more and Cuff The Duke didn’t let anyone down as they played “If I Live Or If I Die” and a wicked cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream. During “If I Live Or If I Die” they split the Grad Club in half which worked out easily as there are really two separate rooms, the left had Wayne singing with the audience “If I Live” and the right side had Francois singing with the crowd “If I Die”. There was an extra bit of play in the song with the audience participation, which always works beautifully in the Grad Club. Then to finish off the night a surprise cover of “Running Down a Dream” was played with the guys putting everything they had left into the ending of the song.