Cuff the Duke fights the cold at Call the Office

Oshawa band treats dancing crowd with old and new songs

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Cuff the Duke

The heater at Call the Office seemed to be broken Friday night.

Despite some of the audience members swearing they could see their breath, the number of bodies and impromptu dancing that cropped up seemed to do away with the cold.

Apparently cheering loudly also keeps you warm. So does dancing in your winter coat.

The show began later than usual with Toronto’s Rock Plaza Central taking the stage. Mainly playing tunes from its 2006 release, Are We Not Horses?, the band kicked off the night with “I Am an Excellent Steel Horse.”

Frontman Chris Eaton took time in between songs to mock his guitar playing skills, and even removed a shoe of his that didn’t fit. Stranger things have happened at Call the Office.

With a brass section consisting of two trumpets, the band turned songs like “My Children, Be Joyful” into potential anthems for nasally-voiced revolution, but couldn’t quite kick the crowd’s excitement up any higher than the angry letter stage.

Towards the end of a fairly short set, Eaton explained, “This song is about having sex in an abandoned barn when it’s freezing outside. Well, I guess they are all kind of about that.”

The crowd grew and pushed its way forward once Cuff the Duke, Oshawa’s strongest musical export, appeared.

Rock Plaza Hotel

Despite the band’s new album, the audience still wanted to hear the old stuff. Cuff the Duke had previously released two well-received albums before Sidelines of the City created a major boost for the band, and new songs like “If I Live or If I Die” received just as much cheering and spontaneous dancing at the concert as “Take My Money and Run” and “The Future Hangs.”

Abandoning some of the slower material in favour of keeping the energy up, lead singer/guitarist Wayne Petti had the audience under his sway.

Despite being a touring veteran of the often unforgiving Canadian music scene, Cuff the Duke still suffered a few minor technical problems that were soon forgotten. As Petti put it, “If we were Bon Jovi, this wouldn’t be happening. But then we would be Bon Jovi.”

Spared from Bon Jovi’s karaoke classics, the audience reciprocated with more spirited boot stomping. With an encore carrying the one-two punch of “The Ballad of Poor John Henry” and “The Ballad of the Lonely Construction Worker,” Petti added more fuel to an already raging fire.

Any complaints about the cold were lost and, for a finale, part of the crowd took to the stage for a rendition of the “Mexican Wrestling Theme.”

When the whole mess wound down, the crowd seemed fulfilled and sweaty enough to survive the cold walk home. Who needs a heater when you’ve got a band like this?

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette