Live Review: Darwin Deez @ The Duchess, York

Unique and unusual maverick, Darwin Deez delivers his own style of whimsy at The Duchess, York reports

Darwin Deez Photo 1


In a packed, sticky-floored Duchess, I battled my way near the front to catch a glimpse of Darwin Deez following my interview with him earlier that night. Darwin pranced onto the stage, legendary curls out and headband on, and immediately went straight to the front row of the audience clutching bread in his hand. In a bizarre act of charity and kindness, Darwin Deez silently began to share out his bread, passing it to as many members of the audience as he could, much to the delight of several young teenagers.

Then, the rest of the band appeared on stage behind him, they put down their instruments and suddenly there’s an explosion of 70s funk music, to which all of the band members (including Darwin) lined up and launched into a synchronised Saturday Night Fever style dance. After a minute or so of this, they nonchalantly returned to their positions on the stage and pick up instruments, opening with ‘You Can’t Be My Girl’, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

Throughout the next few songs, Darwin doesn’t address the crowd or even introduce himself or the band members, until finally, at the end of ‘Up in the Clouds’, he shouts: “people of York!”, and then promptly receives a round of applause and cheers from the crowd. ‘Kill Your Attitude’’s irresistibly catchy guitar chords and simplistic drums delight the audience, and I cannot help but be somewhat impressed with the strength of Darwin’s vocals throughout the set (particularly as he evidently was struggling from a cough the whole way through the interview).

The band suddenly jump back into formation and start effortlessly popping and locking to more funk with straight faces and a somewhat strange yet impressive style, instilling confusion yet excitement in the audience. They dance together in sync and then proceed to head bang to Rage Against the Machine. Later, they pop and lock once again but this time to a remix of ‘I Whip My Hair Back and Forth’ in a unique and well rehearsed formation.

Darwin finally talks to the audience and states, while strumming chords on the guitar, “I went to the Shambles today…I got a little inspired”; the crowd yelp with excitement and cheer him on as he shows off with an impressive extended guitar improv. It clinches the realisation that Darwin Deez seems able to combine the showmanship of what is required from a frontman, while still remaining distant, mysterious and aloof from his audience.

“I know you like this one” he says, whispering afterwards: “people of York” once again while playing the opening bars of ‘Radar Detector’, Darwin Deez’s most successful single to date, followed by ‘Constellations’, encoring with ‘Bad Day’. The set felt a little short at just under an hour but was nevertheless packed full of entertainment, with an extremely uncommon and individual twist unlike anything I have seen performed by an artist. Darwin Deez was shy and quiet but enchanting and captivating; a musician that I would recommend seeing live any day.

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