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August 11, 2010


Concert recap: Duncan Sheik at City Winery, week 2

by Jesse North

Duncan Sheik returned to New York’s City Winery Tuesday night to complete his two-show commitment, after canceling his June 10 concert due to illness. The Tony-winning composer was back in regular form for an evening of 80s alt-rock covers and solo work.

Sheik kicked off the 80s covers segment with Depeche Mode’s “Stripped,” which he performed back in March at his concert at New Jersey’s South Orange Performing Arts Center. He moved through a set of new covers, which Sheik introduced as their “world premiere; which is code for we haven’t rehearsed them much.” The list included songs from The Cure, Howard Jones, and The Smiths—all with mellow arrangements. One of the few times in his set did Sheik get upbeat was when he played Tears For Fears’ “Shout,” which was a surprisingly mainstream choice for Sheik. As he’s done many times before, he introduced “Shout” with slight embarrassment as “a pop song,” which is something he did repeatedly during the show.

When he played his first concert at City Winery in June, Sheik’s set began with a Nick Drake album in its entirety before moving on to his solo work. Toward the end of Tuesday’s set of covers, a chiding audience member called out “Play Duncan Sheik!” The bashful Sheik responded, “I’m getting there; I just have to get this out of my system.” He began the segment of his own work with “For You” and then jumped to a Whisper House song, which he classically brushed off with, “My last album was called Whisper House. It was a theater thing.” From that musical, he played “The Tale of Solomon Snell,” which I thought was a poor choice, being that there are stronger numbers from the piece, and it has been a part of his past few set lists. Strangely missing lately has been “Earthbound Starlight,” which was the debut single off the Whisper House album.

He only played seven songs of his own work, and Spring Awakening material was noticeably absent. However, Sheik did once again concede to the crowd’s desires and closed the hour-and-a-half set list with “Barely Breathing,” which always seems to be a thorn for the Grammy winner.

Video: “Barely Breathing”

Set list:
80s covers:
“Stripped,” by Depeche Mode
Unknown song by The Cure
“What Is Love” by Howard Jones
“Shout” by Tears For Fears
“Stay” by Blue Nile
“Hold Me Now” by Thompson Twins
“How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths
“Life’s What You Make It” by Talk Talk
Solo work:
“For You”
“The Tale of Solomon Snell” from Whisper House
“Come Out” (new song)
“Such Reveries”
“Half A Room” (new song)
“Barely Breathing”

City Winery
155 Varick St., New York, NY

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kym
    Aug 11 2010

    Thank you so much for bringing me along! Was a fantastic show…if not a little hot in the venue!

  2. Susan Arcelay
    Aug 11 2010

    love the show-great review! I was pleased to see something different from him-last show I saw was 90 percent Whisper House and 10% Spring Awakening. He was warm, funny, and very enjoyable!


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