It's a sad, unfortunate truth in music that sometimes, despite an artist's brilliance, the time comes where they believe they have done all they can with a project and wish to move on. Such is the case for Sam Duckworth a.k.a Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Despite soundtracking the adolescence of so many strong minded, introspective teenagers with his heartfelt, cult classic debut 'The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager', at the age of 28, Duckworth clearly feels the time is right to say goodbye to this chapter of his life with one last, countrywide lap of honour.
The air of nostalgia is thick inside the Brudenell Social Club as Duckworth walks unassumingly, nervously even, onto the stage, looking both troubled and thoughtful. Using a laptop to create musical layers and textures has become common practise in the modern music industry, but whether it's the songs or the setting, the thumping beats that accompany the opening strains of 'The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager part 2' feel decidedly, heartwarmingly familiar and old-school, the way it's always done. It sounds great, but something isn't right: Sam looks visibly shaken by the magnitude of the project he is about to bury, and the audience seem to hold back, wondering whether he is going to be alright. With Get Cape, the fan-band barrier has always been blurred; he feels to many as much of a friend as a hero, and the emotion of the evening weighs heavy as people will him on through his obvious torment.
Halfway through a performance of his eponymous song 'Get Cape', Duckworth finally snaps. He puts his guitar down, apologises and walks off. This is far from a traditional diva strop - a bemused minute of genuine concern passes as we collectively wonder whether he really is ready to pack away the past ten years of his life. A political activist through and through, the song's lyrics about consumerism remain as current as they were in 2006, and one has to wonder whether in that moment, singing it for the last time in Leeds felt to Sam like giving up on the cause.
Like always, he isn't down for long. Returning in a fit of apologies, a quick run through of 'Find The
Time' edges the party out of wake territory and back into a celebration, waves of applause greeting him as he asks for forgiveness over the 'therapy session' before giving 'Get Cape...' another go. He admits that he'd had a hard day and 'couldn't sing that song in that headspace', a wonderfully human moment that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. With the fourth wall well and truly brought down, all that is left to do is to make the most of the occasion.
Despite a slew of technical hiccups that seem to frustrate only Sam rather than anyone in the audience, it is patently obvious that these songs haven't aged at all. 'Whitewash is Brainwash' still brings back personal memories of printing this songs lyrics off and taking them into a year 10 poetry lesson, and both 'Collapsing Cities' and 'Call Me Ishmael' incite the sort of singalong that could fill arenas. Heck, let's be honest - most songs played here fill the hearts and voices of the devoted audience. Even newer track 'Remember' brings a tear to multiple eyes, tinged as it is with the fear and worry that plagues so many of us. It hits home heavily as a new graduate, entirely bewildered by what is next and the worries of impending 'adult life' that lurk in the shadows. As he sings 'I'm scared of the day when I have to stop/I'm scared of the fact that I might be wrong', it's pretty obvious that we're not the only ones who feel the anxiety of facing the unknown.
As we bookend the evening with 'Chronicles...part 1', and the 'Ba Da Da Da Da' singalong rings out of the club and down the street, it's a bittersweet affair. Tonight may have marked Duckworth's 'first onstage breakdown in ten years', but despite the technicalities, it felt like a fitting end. The work of Get Cape, and 'Chronicles...' in particular achieved so many things that such a lyrically noncommercial record ever should, and quite clearly meant so much to so many people. Whether it be admitting it's weaknesses and walking off stage or joking with the ardent fans in the front row, there is absolutely no denying that Sam Duckworth has heart. And in a world saturated with sell-outs and suppressed passions, heart means everything.
NOTE: Safety In Sound wishes Sam Duckworth the best of luck in his future musical endeavours, and thanks him for his contribution to the site back in August where he shared his favourite songs of his Get Cape career. Read that post here