100 Shows of 2010 - #30: Cuff The Duke @ Iota, 6/5/10

We’ve already established that I love Canada, and that I love a good twang. And Cuff The Duke, well, they manage to marry those two loves of mine in a sweetly holy little matrimony. When the chance arose to go see the country popsters, I jumped about a country mile. Their new album, Way Down Here, continues to rock my little socks off and float my boat, so I was so curious to see just how good the band could be in person. The answer, not all that surprisingly, was pretty damn good.

MINI RECAP: Cuff The Duke = Impressively impressive! Overall score: A-.

Weekends always bring the crowds down to Iota, nestled as it is in the burgeoning, upwardly mobile part of Arlington frequented by the be-khakied masses. Sometimes I fear the Iota crowds aren’t always there to really take in the good music before them, though I’d like to think the crowd on this night was paying attention. If they weren’t, they missed a mighty fine little set from the newest Neighbors to the North to win my heart.

Cuff The Duke started their set with the wonderful “Listen To Your Heart”, full of good-time jangle and an incredibly balanced sound, a sound that hallmarks all Cuff The Duke songs. Also immediately evident was their disarming, down-home stage presence. “The banter gets better as the show goes on,” we were told, after the band noted they had played Iota virtually exactly two years earlier. The banter might have required a warm-up, but the songs, the songs were something else. “It’s All a Blur” was tight, snappy, and had a great little guitar lick towards the midway point. As good as their record is, by this point in the set I was beginning to think Cuff The Duke is even better outside the studio than in it.

Mike from headliners Blue Rodeo joined the band for some piano duty on a couple of songs, one of which was the stunning “Follow Me”. It’s such a pretty little song, that one, and I closed my eyes to visions of a room full of people swinging their partners around the dancefloor. And oh, those harmonies…absolutely killed me. That song was more than likely my favorite of the set. “Rockin Chair” was next, and further allowed the band to show off their polished, technically perfect sound. Which, naturally, sounded effortless. Also included were rousing renditions of “Promises” and “Another Day in Purgatory”, and they closed out the set with a stunner. They asked for quiet (“Just shut the fuck up for a couple minutes”), which sadly wasn’t totally granted by the beer-swilling folks in attendance. But it was no matter, as they launched into a beautiful, totally acoustic version of “You Were Right” more and more people shut their mouths and stood at attention. The harmonies were magic, and they totally blew my mind with that song.

To put it mildly, friends, get thee to a Cuff The Duke show post haste. They’re more than worth your while.

mp3: Follow Me (Cuff The Duke from Way Down Here)


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