You know how the old AT&T Long Distance building—32 Sixth Ave., bordered by Lispenard, Church, and Walker—has those huge antennas that look like electricity should be zapping between them, as if they were atop Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory? (Maybe that’s just me.) They’re for the Clear Channel radio stations—Z100, Q104.3, 106.7 Lite FM, Power 105.1, and 103.5 KTU—broadcasting from within. Also inside the building, off the lobby, is a performance space, the P.C. Richard & Son Theater, that, presumably, the electronics retailer rented naming rights to. It has a capacity of just 250 people.
Concerts are held twice a week or so, and the range and wattage of acts who have appeared is impressive: John Legend, Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Robyn, Harry Connick Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alicia Keys—and that’s just from a quick glance at the website.
Don’t go calling Ticketmaster, though: Tickets are only given away to winners of the radio stations’ and P.C. Richard’s promotions. The folks at Clear Channel, however, graciously let me check out last Wednesday’s Duffy show, presented by iheartradio, Clear Channel’s aggregate platform. (You may recall Duffy from her 2008 hit “Mercy,” from the album Rockferry. Her new album, Endlessly, comes out Dec. 7.)
Doors were said to open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show, so I arrived at 6:05. Around 75 people were already lined up along Sixth. The crowd was young (relative to me, anyway), with more smoking than I’m used to seeing these days. My name was checked off a list, and my wrist was tagged with a red band. While we waited, Pelea Mexicana sent someone over to hand out menus. By 6:35 p.m., we were herded through the main revolving door, where we made a hard left, through more doors and into an antechamber, where certain people (like me!) received VIP passes. And then it was into theater.
The 5,500-square-foot space is a bare-bones box with “P.C. Richard & Son Theater Tribeca, NYC” projected onto two walls. The stage is on the left as you enter; the audience stands in the middle of the room, and toward the back is an area cordoned off for the sound, lighting, and video crews. (Clips of Duffy’s performance are posted here.) Behind the tech folks is a riser: That’s the VIP area, and even though it’s farthest from the stage, the space is so intimate that it’s no big loss. Plus, you get a wall to lean against and a beer-and-wine open bar. The hoi polloi isn’t allowed to eat or drink in the theater.
At 7:05 p.m., the band came on, followed by Z100′s Trey Morgan, who introduced Duffy. She’s tiny and cute, her long blond hair pulled up in back with shaggy bangs. Imagine Meg Ryan as a girl-group singer. Her band was big—13 members, including a four-person string section. She sang seven songs—”Well Well Well,” “Keeping My Baby” (Madonna, alert your lawyers); “Don’t Forsake Me,” “Endlessly,” “My Boy” (crying for a disco remix); a cover of “Band of Gold” (she said Clear Channel wants performers do a cover, so she turned Freda Payne’s 1970 hit into an even funkier stomp), and “Mercy.” I only knew “Mercy” going in, and live, Duffy’s voice struck me as more adenoidal than I remembered, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. She’s charming and can definitely sing; she’d make a great Adelaide in Guys & Dolls.
Got a question about something Tribeca-related? I’ll do my best to investigate it. Email me at TribecaCitizen@gmail.com.