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Herman Düne + Julie Doiron: 29 October 2009 - Chicago

Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley

David-Ivar Herman Düne has a problem. You see, he’s really a superhero and he has to find a way to tell his girlfriend. It’s a good thing he’s an apt lyricist or there’d be no hope for the situation at all. It’s topics like these that separate French duo Herman Düne from other bands concentrating heavily on the singer/songwriter format. The idiosyncratic makes for great conversational elements and interesting rhyme schemes. It also helps keep the audience listening and, at times, even laughing.

Not all of Herman Düne’s songs are about superheros, though. Many of them are also about small moments and creating a song around them. They’ll make you hear Strange Music as well and perhaps you can also appreciate it. Often times the songs begin simply and slowly in a more gentle fashion and proceed to an intense crescendo with Néman Herman Düne helping out on drums. But frequently the main idea or sense of meaning from the song is repeated to emphasize it specifically, for instance “No World Without You” sung with honesty and weight over and over again. At one different point in the night, David-Ivar Herman Düne even elevated his lower voice to an anxious tenor while repeating “I shout your name” to give a heightened sense of emotional urgency which proved rather effective.

Playing for nearly an hour and a half, Herman Düne also sang a great song, “Shadow of a Doubt,” and spoke about his love of the Hitchcock film. Considering their intellectual proclivities, this came as no surprise. It also wasn't shocking that David-Ivar Herman Düne mentioned how much he was a fan of both Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen in-between songs, considering his singer-songwriter folk featured perfectly matching guitar. Yet there was a more whimsical sense at times, between roaring like a lion while meeting at next year in Zion and his, sometimes, very quirky topics. But regardless of whether his mood took on a more silly or serious element his sincerity didn't waver.

There were times when both Dünes sang together, which made for an interesting contrast between vocal ranges. “Try to Think About Me (Don’t You Worry a Bit)" was a favorite highlight for this reason. Also, as a special treat, Julie Doiron joined Herman Düne on stage towards the end of the set. According the David-Ivar Herman Düne, the pair met ten years ago in Chicago at the unfortunately now defunct club, Lounge Ax. It was lovely to hear some of Doiron’s vocals complement the songs to establish a perfect balance between masculine and feminine. There was a sense of comfort and ease there, which made the lyrics flow well and set up the song “Walk Don’t Run” for a very powerful conclusion.

Doiron’s set beforehand was also lovely as usual. It was interesting how Doiron presented herself. It was almost as if she had a conversation with an old friend on a telephone, the way she rambled for large expanses of time between songs. If it were anyone else it might prove annoying, but with Julie Doiron it was, instead, endearing. It was also better to have just her on stage singing solo and playing her guitar rather than with a band as on recent tours. There was something altogether more intimate about it, the inherent tendency of the songs it seemed. Doiron played for a little over 45 minutes and as usual took requests from the audience, relating stories about each song before beginning them. She often leaves the impression that all of her songs are autobiographical, about her kids, her relationships, and her place in the music industry as well as the world. It felt like a genuine gift she was able to give to strangers by sharing her life experiences. The best part of her set was the way she ended it: with a powerful medley between “No More” and “The Wrong Guy.”

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