Duke of York’s Picturehouse, 18th December
Sitting in the Duke of York’s Picturehouse waiting for a band to come onstage makes you feel momentarily dislocated from the present, like you’ve been transported back in time to the heady old days of folk. The old venue has a charming, venerable ambience, and for a moment you can almost imagine a ‘60s Bob Dylan rolling onstage and causing a stir by going electric. Herman Dune may not be Bob Dylan and there is little chance of an electric-based riot, but here is an anti-folk band whose latter pop sensibilities have gained them a whole new audience while losing them a founder member.
Andre Herman Dune’s departure in 2006 was seemingly due to a musical difference of opinion about the overly commercial direction of the band, leaving David-Ivar Herman Dune to continue to plough the quirk-pop furrow to his heart’s desire. When the band arrive on stage at 9.30pm you’re quickly reminded that there’s actually very little not to like about that furrow. David-Ivar, the heavily bearded but sharply dressed singer and guitarist has a hit-writing ability that’s evident in the jaunty and charming classics, “1-2-3 Apple Tree” and “I Wish That I Could See You Soon” from 2006’s breakthrough album, “Giant”. Supplemented by his trusty cohorts – a smoothly functioning band and two sweetly harmonious female backing singers – the live experience is gently pleasurable, and the full house is treated to a selection of cuts from the new album, including “Baby Baby You’re My Baby” and title track “Next Year in Zion”. David’s trademark tiptoe-guitar-playing-crouch is on show, as well as his distinctively strong French accent and penchant for amusing rhyming couplets.
The music is delivered impeccably, the performance is excellent and the venue is a delight, but there is something mildly unfulfilling about it all. The anti-folk just doesn’t seem very anti any more, or even that folky for that matter. That said, for those who like their pop music quirky and catchy, Herman Dune remain a band capable of delivering the goods with aplomb and are well worth investigating.
Words by Joe Owen
Photography by Rob Thomas