Monday, May 21, 2012
I KNOW I MISSED SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL
I had the time of my life a couple of weeks back when a group of friends from Canada came over to Scotland and fulfilled their dreams of playing golf on some of the finest courses there are in Scotland.
I was with them every step of the way from their arrival in Glasgow on 2 May. I stayed with them at their rented house in Edinburgh, acted as their tour guide to all the golf courses, distilleries pubs and restaurants throughout their packed itinerary. It was great to be with them and the memories will live long.
The only downside was that their stay meant there was no point in me trying to get a ticket for the Dexy's Midnight Runners gig in Glasgow on Sunday 6 May as I was a long way away from the city that day and night. I knew I was going to miss something special.
Amazingly, the night I got back to Glasgow I bumped into my sidekick Aldo on the train back home. He told me the gig was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen, but beyond words to try and describe.
The next day I spoke to my boss at work. He too said it was something that was beyond words...even his teenage kids had come away blown away by the brilliance of the show.
And then to top it all....a very dear friend whose musical taste is as wide and eclectic as anyone I know....and someone who under the name of cullen skink has written some excellent pieces for TVV over the years got in touch to say that while he too thought the show was beyond words he was going to try...so much so that the gig inspired him after all these year to start up his own blog. And without shame or embarrassment, I'm lifting his review straight from said blog:-
Yesterday I wrote on Facebook...
"A band makes three albums. Their stock-in-trade is emotion without restraint, expression without compromise. Soul-baring belligerence.
You're a teenager and they're your favourite band.
You listen to their three albums more than any others, throughout your teens and beyond.
They make a fourth album. And you find yourself in your forties.
HOW DO YOU FEEL?"
...a roundabout way of saying that I was going to see Dexys. And that listening to Dexys has been an intrinsic part of my life.
But I'm not that teenager any more. Different things appeal to me. So who was to say the emotional extremes of Dexys would still ring true?
I needn't have questioned it.
The show was billed as a performance of the new album One Day I'm Going to Soar. I've listened to clips online - and it sounds promising. But live and in its entirety... it was incredible. If any other band made an album after 27 years away, it'd be irrelevant, probably regrettable. But this set of songs is VITAL. It's pure Dexys - passionate soul music full of ideas, incredible singing, conversation, Kevin Rowland beating himself up.
Cottiers Theatre was an unbelievably intimate venue to witness this in. I was probably about 20ft away from Kevin, and there wasn't even a stage to raise him above us.
It was more like theatre than any regular gig. As ever the band were tailored to perfection. And the songs were performed as dialogues, monologues, explosions of emotion. Every detail arranged with insane precision.
Love and sex figured large, approached with utter candidness. Kevin sang two songs to a projection of his ideal girl, then suddenly she appeared in person! Whereupon the songs became a conversation between the two of them. And just when their weird dynamic got uncomfortable - an older man slavering over a beautiful young girl - Kevin turned it on its head and declared himself "incapable of love". He shrank from her in front of our eyes - cast himself out, enraging her. It was mind-blowing to witness in a concert.
We might think of Dexys as Kevin's search for something to believe in, but this is a more tangible story: a man getting old without a loving relationship, and - of course - it's laid out with brutal honesty.
But it wasn't just Kevin with a backing band, this was truly Dexys: a living, breathing collective, matching the singer's passion. Rather than re-inventing the Dexys sound, the 2012 version seamlessly combines all the previous incarnations. New blood and old blood flow together. Band members Mick Talbot and Dave Ruffy are heroes too. Pete Williams is a big part of Dexys' history. But most of all, Big Jimmy Paterson on trombone: Dexys fans know his story, and to hear him back in the band, playing beautifully once again, was profoundly emotional.
After the new album, there followed a set of old songs I wouldn't have dared imagine: Old (now with its point-of-view reversed), Until I Believe in My Soul, Tell Me When My Light Turns Green, Come On Eileen, This is What She's Like, and an extended routine in which Kevin tried to make a statement to a policeman (yes, Pete got costumed up) about the burning feeling he'd had since 1971. It was hilarious, bizarre, and utterly heartfelt.
Kevin is beyond unique. Even when he's assimilated heroes like Van Morrison, it's impossible for him to be derivative - he just puts himself out there in ways no one else would. And after so many wilderness years, the triumph of his return was a joy shared by everyone in the room.
The whole thing was positively REDEMPTIVE. It's (with no apologies for the use of the word) WONDERFUL that Kevin Rowland has formed a band, and written and recorded an album, which more than live up to the name.
Dexys can still be my favourite band.
What a brilliant and heartfelt review. I know that my mate doesn't mind me lifting his words lock, stock and barrel.
Sadly, my mate's wee boy has been quite poorly this past few weeks and his blog hasn't quite taken off as he'd intended. But when it does, I'll be drawing your attention to it. In the meantime, here's one of the new Dexy's tracks:-
mp3 : Dexy's Midnight Runners - Nowhere Is Home
And here's two clips from their appearance last week on Later with Jools Holland:-
Happy Listening and viewing.