C Duncan

Venue: Pleasance Theatre
Town: Edinburgh
Date: 4/12/15
Website: http://www.c-duncan.co.uk/

Glasgow's C Duncan, the son of two classical musicans and a graduate of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, released his debut album, "Architect", earlier this year. Christopher ('C') Duncan famously recorded the album entirely on his own in the bedroom studio of his Glasgow home. It reveals Christopher's interests in both classical and modern music and was released to critical acclaim. The lovingly multi-layered and multi-textured songs feature sweeping choral harmonies and crisp acoustic instrumentation and have established C Duncan as a singularly talented artist. The nomination of "Architect" for the Mercury Prize 2015 has clearly added to C Duncan's already considerable reputation.

C Duncan brought his band to Edinburgh's Pleasance Theatre on 4th December, as part of a tour of the UK and northern Europe. As the band kicked into their first song, any concerns that it would be challenging to reproduce live the sumptuous soundscapes of the recorded work were quickly dispelled. Christopher Duncan has assembled a very talented band (keyboards, bass and drums) to complement his intricate guitar work and the excellent vocal harmonies provided by the bassist and keyboard player help to replicate, as closely as possible, the sublimely multi-tracked vocals found on the album. The music is very precise, but never clinical, and added warmth is provided by the soothing caress of C Duncan's vocals and the exquisite vocal harmonies.

All of the songs on the "Architect" album were played impeccably, although in a different running order. Among the many highlights were "Say", with its trippy beats, jangling guitar and euphoric harmonies; the graceful ebb and flow of "Architect"; the delicate twists and turns and elegantly-whistled choruses of "For"; the spiky and guitar-driven urgency of "Here To There"; and the slightly brooding "By", propelled along by choppy organ chords and fills. Another memorable highlight was provided by the gentle cadence of the seasonal instant classic, "I'll Be Gone By Winter", which featured a velvety smooth vocal from Christopher Duncan and prompted one audience member to exclaim "Christmas number one!" Why not indeed?

There were a couple of new songs too, which more than lived up to the high standards set on the "Architect" album, especially the highly impressive "Castle Walls", performed largely a capella, over gently picked guitar, and with stunning vocals and harmonies.

C Duncan may not have won this year's Mercury Prize but his bold, imaginative and stylish songs certainly represent a winning formula.

David Ferguson

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