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Venue: Sheperds Bush Empire, London (Wednesday, June 4).
Aimee Anne Duffy, who goes by just her last name, showed why she’s the latest hot young British singer-songwriter with a chance to build a lasting career with a sold-out first gig at the iconic Shepherds Bush Empire.
Petite but with a powerful voice that she knows how to control, Duffy sang most of the songs from her debut album “Rockferry,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard chart when it was released in the United States last month.
If the 70-odd-minute set, covering 15 numbers, did not set the place on fire, it was a rock solid performance that left the impression her best is still to come. Pacing had something to do with it since the singer was content to propel a slow burn rather than offer a musical explosion.
The mark of a performer of genuine promise is that the singer remains interesting even when the song is not and Duffy showed that in abundance. Getting to grips with class material such as her album’s title song, “Rockferry,” “Serious,” “Stepping Stone” and “Warwick Avenue” allowed her to demonstrate terrific range.
With a slick six-piece band made up of two on guitar, two on percussion and one each on bass and keyboard, the music was an insistent pleasure with Duffy’s cracked and bluesy voice soaring into sweet heights of melody.
Relaxed and poised, she used her considerable sex appeal intelligently, matching her shaggy-haired blonde looks with just enough insolence diluted by ingratiating charm and pleasing humility. “It would be rude not to introduce myself,” she said after her first number. “I’m Duffy, by the way.”
Around the 10th number, she raised the temperature for the clearly delighted audience with “Breaking My Own Heart” and cranked it up further with a rousing “Tomorrow.” But then she elected to slow it down with Burt Bacharach’s engaging but lightweight “Please Stay” before going out with her hard driving hit single “Mercy.”
The encore sustained the high energy with “Oh Boy,” the B-side of her “Rockferry” single, and a slamming closer in the anthem “Distant Dreamer.” With a little adjustment in the set list, Duffy will be dreamily blowing the roof off whatever joint she chooses in the not too distant future.
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