Express & Star

Dexys, Birmingham Symphony Hall - Concert review

By rights, this should have been a concert to celebrate Dexys nomination for a Mercury Prize.


By rights, this should have been a concert to celebrate Dexys nomination for a Mercury Prize.

That Dexys was overlooked in yesterday's nominations for the 2012 music competition was a surprise. The band's comeback album, One Day I'm Going to Soar, has been one of the most lauded of the year.

Last night, Birmingham's Symphony Hall was treated to a theatrical presentation of the album, a story of self-doubt, identity and an inability to love.

And there were some treats too, including an eight-minute version of Come on Eileen and a wonderful finale of What's She Like, the stand-out song from the last album Don't Stand Me Down, released in 1985.

This is no greatest hits tour, however, with Dexys leaving out standards like Geno in the second half of the show in favour of more obscure album tracks from the past.

The emphasis of the tour is very much on the new album, which features actress Madeleine Hyland as the love interest as the new songs are threaded into a narrative, which is by turns profound, hilarious, and heart-wrenchingly sad.

Rowland and Hyland last night milked the drama of that narrative to the full, he posturing and pouting and she teasing and ultimately running from the stage in a dramatic love-tiff tantrum.

One Day I'm Going to Soar is a truly remarkable work. The soul-filled She Got a Wiggle was a highlight despite a technical error with a projector screen. Incapable of Love was full of energy and humour.

But Rowland's strength was, and continues to be, his distinctive and powerful voice, which only appears to be improving with age. And that came into its own on ballads like Nowhere is Home and It's OK John Joe.

The self-styled Wanderer returned to his West Midland roots in style. And the rapturous and emotional reception he and the band received proves the enduring appeal of Dexys despite their 27-year break.

Stuart Filmer

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