On Friday 20 March 2015, BBC4 are showing the film ‘Dexys: Nowhere is Home’, featuring what led up to their comeback album ‘One Day I’m Going To Soar’ and the triumphant accompanying live shows.
Formed in 1980 as ‘Dexys Midnight Runners’ by singer Kevin Rowland, the fortunes of the band have varied dramatically, starting with the critical acclaim for debut album ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ and number one single ‘Geno’. This was followed by a change of direction into the ‘celtic soul’ of 1983 album ‘Too-Rye-Aye’ with blockbusting hits ‘Jackie Wilson Said’ and of course UK and US number one ‘Come On Eileen’, destined to be included on 80s compilations for evermore. Line-up changes are well documented elsewhere, as is the status of the ‘neglected classic’ 1985 third album ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’ and the long barren years.
Then mostly it all went quiet until the rumours of a new album due for release in 2012…
… And what an album it was, the distillation of the best of all that had gone before, honed to perfection with an as-live sound (listen to those drums!) and a variety of musical styles to accompany Kevin Rowland’s impressionistic life story, his lyrics linking the songs into an inseparable whole. Themes of friendship, relationships and love, creativity, national identity, ageing, masculinity, insecurity, it was all there… delivered in Kevin’s unique vocal stylising, pulling in and engrossing the listener. Some band members from the past were back, with the addition of keyboards(hear the tide of Hammond organ on ‘Thinking Of You’) and writing from Mick Talbot, long-time collaborator with Paul Weller and most recently Wilko Johnson.
The live shows bravely started with the entire album: when I saw them at Cambridge Corn Exchange the audience were not yet familiar with the required demands of the new material on the listener, but were held rapt until the last note. The second half of the concert was more familiar, including a blistering version of ‘This Is What She’s Like’, the centrepiece of the (currently unavailable?!) third album.
Later in the tour I saw them again at Bury St Edmunds Apex, a more intimate venue and by this time the new song-cycle had really reached hearts and minds. Three of the pivotal songs are about the idealising/idolising of a woman, played brilliantly by Madeleine Hyland who suddenly appeared singing in the high seats at the back of the venue. She then joined the rest of the band on stage for the theatrical vocal duelling of getting together (‘I’m Always Going To Love You’) and an abrupt break-up (‘Incapable Of Love’), with Kevin at his tortured best.
It was the highlight of a great show and tour culminating in the nine night residency at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, as featured in ‘Nowhere Is Home’.
Embrace and enjoy…