REVIEW: Dexys @ The Sage
By Mark Grainger on September 25, 2012 in Music
“I’d hate to have to try to review that. I don’t know where the fuck you’d start!” Those are (roughly) the optimism inspiring words which waft towards my ears from across The Sage’s car park like a fart in the wind from one of the other audience members at Dexys’, formerly Dexys Midnight Runners, third North East show in nine years.
A few short months after beginning their resurrection at Whitley Bay’s playhouse, this week saw Dexys bring their new album, One Day I’m Going To Soar, their first release in twenty seven years, to Gateshead, and so help me I’m going to get at least 500 words out of it. You just see if I don’t, Mr. Car Park-man.
First though, a small disclaimer; a Dexys gig in their current iteration isn’t really a gig, not in the traditional sense. For a start there’s no support band, with the under card instead being amply filled with a ten minute burlesque performance (other bands, take not) from Miss Betsy Rose who thankfully turned out to not just be Kevin Rowland in a new dress, and perhaps even more pleasingly caused a bit of an embarrassed stir amongst the more middle-aged contingent of the crowd. As for the main event, well, to be honest the band’s official twitter feed explains it best when they write “Dexys present their show ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’… followed by a few old Dexys favourites.”
Of course It’s those old favourites which get the crowd on their feet, with Come On Eileen, This Is What She’s Like and a more calmly paced Tell Me When My Light Turns Green proving to be the most crowd pleasing, spurring on dancing in the balconies as they do, but they are far from being the real meat of the show.
In truth, its hard to believe that its not the promise of these much loved songs which have brought much of the Sage’s audience to see the newly energised Dexys, but they’re certainly not what’s brought Kevin Rowland and his musicians to the stage. As most people probably know, Dexys have been performing their new LP in its entirety at every show across the country since they hit the road and it’s this main section where you can feel the passion dripping from the stage.
The above tweet alludes to Dexys presenting ‘their show ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’, and show is the well and truly the operative word. Unsurprisingly Rowland and Co are a finely tuned musical unit, this is the man who used to make his band members go for runs which ended in the practice room after all, but this isn’t just a play through of new material, as the songs are presented in a psuedo-theatrical style, with slightly disorientating props and on-stage conversations between Rowland and his foil Pete Williams commonplace throughout the hour long first set.
More than the props and dialogue though, its Kevin Rowland himself who you never feel is doing anything less than flawlessly hitting his own, intensely rehearsed on-stage cues, right down to where he stands and what he does with his hands at any given moment. Free-wheeling he ain’t. Thankfully the rest of the band are left to do their own devices and do a fine job amid some of the odder moments such as She’s Got A Wiggle, where a video screen plays recording of Madeleine Hyland’s chorus despite her appearing in person a few songs later.
The theatricality then could be a contentious move on Dexys part but this is a band who have always had a unifying image and style throughout their iterations and this dramatic bent should be treat no differently to the days of dungarees and neckerchiefs. Its brave, its bold and, most importantly, its distinctly Dexys, as the standing ovations they receive at the end of each of their two sets surely attests to.
Hows that for a review eh, Mr. Car Park-man? Eh? Eh?
- Primal Scream To Headline Stockton Weekender