“God bless you, Cuff the Duke!” someone in the audience yelled gleefully, as Cuff the Duke took the stage for their third full set at the Dakota Tavern last night.
It was one of two multi-set shows that the band is doing at the Dakota this month (the second show is next Tuesday – July 30). The audience seemed to be in full attendance of serious Cuff fans (as opposed to casual ones), as well as Hayden fans. The band had announced earlier in the day via social media that their good pal Hayden would join them for a few songs that night.
Opening the show with older songs “Blackheart” and “Hobo Night Stalker,” I definitely felt nostalgic up at the front of the stage – I’ve known the band since their early days, as an Oshawa native myself.
Frontman Wayne Petti thanked the audience for coming and said, “We’ll be playing Cuff the Duke songs all night.” An audience member yelled, “That’s what we’re here for!” to which Petti quipped, “Well, if that’s not what you’re here for, then you’re fucked.”
And the band delivered, playing three – count ‘em – three full-length sets consisting of songs from their six studio albums. Each set featured a cover song – CCR’s “Looking Out My Back Door,” Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” and The Beatles’ “Get Back.”
As a live band, Cuff the Duke has pretty much mastered all the tricks of the trade – amusing stage banter with audience interaction, call-and-answer songs (“If I Live or If I Die”), singalongs (“Follow Me,” “Take My Money and Run” and oh yeah – having awesome secret guests join them on stage. Hayden joined the band for two songs during the first set. Having toured together as the supporting act and Hayden’s backing band as The Elk-Lake Serenaders in 2004 (they played Lee’s Palace in November, for trivia’s sake), Cuff proved that their synergy with Hayden is still strong. Playing “Dynamite Walls” (off Skyscraper National Park) and a fantastic rendition of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” it just felt like a rare and special moment to witness them all on the small stage together.
By the third set, it seemed that fatigue was setting in, but the band soldiered on. The crowd had considerably thinned out from its earlier attendance, but those who remained didn’t lack enthusiasm. When the band finished close to 2am (that’s nearly four hours of music!) to hoots, hollers and cheers, what can you really say, aside from “God bless you, Cuff the Duke.”