Review: Dexys, Duke of York’s, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Tuesday 16 April 2013
Few pop stars lay bare their mental frailty with Kevin Rowland’s unsparing detail, or find a cure as reliably in their own music. Dexys’ fourth album, last year’s One Day I’m Going To Soar, somewhat tardily followed up 1985’s misunderstood masterpiece Don’t Stand Me Down, and describes a lifetime of broken self-esteem, giddy hubris and failed grasps for love.
The accompanying stage-show has already outgrown it. Running through the album as a theatrical piece, the current Dexys also draw on an epic band history on a level with The Smiths and The Clash. On the first night of nine at this West End theatre, they play for over two hours, and feel like they’re just getting started.
They begin with a piano overture in the dark. The theatre’s lights and shadows and the lush folds of its curtains are used throughout, Rowland at first a sharp-suited silhouette strutting across the stage.One Day I’m Going To Soar’s first songs set out his autobiography as an unsatisfied Black Country Irish dreamer. “Me” takes us deep into the warring demons in his head during the pop star years of “Come On Eileen”, where “people don’t seem to like me…they want to hurt me”. This ends in a play-acted explosion of violence towards long-serving trombonist Big Jim Paterson, in the thankless role of an effete 1980s scenester. Letting these paranoid voices inside him out links Rowland to so many similarly suffering listeners.
Actress Madeleine Hyland plays the ideal of beauty sought then abandoned over five songs, first glimpsed as a gowned goddess smoking on a chaise longue, but soon having earthier dialogues with Rowland. By “Incapable of Love”, this melodrama has ended in her tears. In truth, it doesn’t stand up as well as what follows: “It’s O.K. John Joe”, a monologue of suicidal solitude, sung in front of a blue curtain to bluer-sounding piano and violin.
“Well,” Pete Williams, Rowland’s stage foil and co-singer these days, considers, “we couldn’t leave it like that, could we?” And so Dexys’ music redeems Rowland and us, a blast of soulful brass and Celtic violin that surges through a last act of old songs including “Geno” and “This Is What She’s Like”, his ultimate shaggy dog story of inarticulate, unsatisfiable longing. “You know, it’s never enough,” he sings over and over. For tonight, though, it is.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Why it matters 26 million people have changed their Facebook profile picture to a rainbow flag
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato