It's difficult to overstate the brilliance of The Duckworth Lewis Method's cricket-themed album, and even harder to do it without descending into a kit-bag of cricketing terminology – like noting, for example, how Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh's maiden delivery hits all the sweet spots; or how each plays a captain's innings worthy of a leg up the indie batting order. See? And it's a terrible compulsion, because actually what they've managed to achieve is a good deal subtler than that; a collection of songs that are certainly about cricket, but that also manage to push the boundaries of their designated plot and become about other things, too.
That's not to say that they don't play their theme for all it's worth. They saunter on stage in crisp panamas, while Hannon sports a striped jacket that wouldn't look out of place at Lord's. "Don't laugh," he says, rather defensively.
The songs are exquisite slabs of sunshine. "Gentleman and Players", a hazy, harpsichord-backed take on Village Green-era Kinks manages to conjure a heady hit of nostalgia and offer a cricket history lesson at the same time; "The Sweet Spot", ostensibly about the perfect meeting of bat and ball but definitely about sex, is furnished with a greater dose of swamp-rock on stage; and the joyous "Meeting Mr Miandad" has the audience bouncing politely up and down on the leather upholstery.
It's just after Hannon has delivered the most popular song of the evening, "Jiggery Pokery", a Flanders and Swann-like ditty told from the perspective of a flummoxed Mike Gatting as he's dismissed by Shane Warne in 1993, that you realise what a perfect match these two are. Almost immediately, and without time for the dust to settle on the kind of sardonic eyebrow-arching that can hamper Hannon's Divine Comedy output, Walsh launches into the harmony-drenched "Mason on the Boundary". Hats off gentlemen – and very, very well played.Reuse content