I went along to see the legendary Sylvain Sylvain at the equally legendary 100 Club on a balmy London evening. I confess to having missed the show of opening act The Bears altogether, but second up are The Duel, fronted by fiery female singer Tara Rez, the band looked strong on stage, especially with added keyboards by Andy Thierum. It certainly does make The Duel stand out with their unique and distinct blend of Punk – New Wave – Rock and even Reggae. Guitarist Thanos is given room to branch out musically which makes for a more interesting overall sound and gives the material a pleasing lift... more melodic yet retaining the power and urgency of the songs. Their 30 minute set comprised of material taken from current album 'Soundtrack to the end of the world', from their three previous albums plus brand new soon to be released album 'Waging war' soon to be released. 'The way London used to be' from 'Soundtrack....' came across particularly strongly, as did old favourite 'Camden Town' with Tara stalking the stage menacingly and making it her own completely.What a front woman! This was an enjoyable and energetic set appreciated by the crowd and I look forward to seeing them again soon....
By the time Sylvain took to the stage, the anticipatory punters were a good 8-10 rows thick and with little ado the band launch into an instrumental which I forgot the name of but much in the vein of 'Pipeline', which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening ... i.e. more Heartbreakers than New York Dolls. On drums we had ex-Libertine Gary Powell and Deadcuts guitarist/co-singer Jerome Alexandre took up bass duties. So, for the first half of the set we had mostly Heartbreakers songs such as 'I Wanna Be Loved' and Johnny Thunders 'Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory', Sylvain keeping the audience amused with some Dolls anecdotes and with his Noo Yawk storytelling panache. Keeping things in character (sort of!) they threw in a not-unappealing version of Lou Reed/Velvet Undergrounds 'Femme Fatale'. Well, it was always gonna be something of a ramshackle affair (Jerome confessing to me after the gig that they had, indeed, only had 2 band rehearsals prior to the gig!). Not that the performance was sloppy, it's just that frankly, they could have shortened the set by 20 minutes easily... as evidenced by the fact that a good portion of the aforementioned 8-10 rows of punters had by halfway through the gig slunk ever nearer the bars at either side of the room! Noticeably absent were songs like 'Vietnamese Baby' and 'Frankenstein' and I could be wrong but I don't recall any songs from 2nd album 'Too Much,Too Soon'! We could've done with more killer and less filler! Whatever, the best is saved ‘til last, naturally (apart from a fine version of 'Jet Boy' roughly halfway through the set) and 'Trash' sounded just great as did closer 'Personality Crisis' for which Jerome hands over his bass to one Mr. Glen Matlock and the drum sticks to a Mr. Clem Burke. A Nice touch, a Doll, a Pistol and a, erm, Blondie all gracing the stage of the relatively humble 100 club. So, all in all, an enjoyable evening and nice to see Sylvain obviously in his element and enjoying himself chatting to the assembled punters after the gig. Rock on, Syl!
Review by Bob Spitzer
Photos by Svenja Block