Queens Hall, Edinburgh
5 stars When Kevin Rowland's latest incarnation of soul brothers and sisters appeared live in May, One Day I'm Going To Soar, the first Dexys album for twenty-seven years, had yet to be released. Four months on, the album's eleven songs played in order sound like a pub theatre musical in waiting. Emotional and geographical exile, romantic yearning, fear of commitment and sheer hormone-popping lust are all in Rowland's loose-knit psycho-drama, pulsed by the music's joyously libidinous thrust. It opens in darkness, with keyboardist Mick Talbot playing an after-hours piano motif before the band burst into life and the lights go up on Rowland and co sporting various shades of Cotton Club depression chic in front of a big red velvet curtain. Rowland pimp-rolls the stage in synch with the music, or else sits astride a wooden chair for the ballads. For She's Got A Wiggle he and vocal foil Pete Williams conspire like the Dead End kids over celluloid images of Madeleine Hyland, the Bettie Page-alike singer and actress from guerilla performance troupe Factory Theatre, who in the flesh spars hammily with Rowland on Incapable of Love. Eventually, on Free, Rowland finds the sort of liberation through self-inflicted pain northern soul was built on. But that's just the first act. The second rewinds for a well-worn routine with Williams dressed as a copper; trombonist Big Jim Paterson duels with fiddler Lucy Morgan on a glorious Tell Me when My Light Turns Green; and an extended Come on Eileen sounds heaven-sent. As Hyland sashays back onstage like a classic B-movie diva during an epic This Is What She's Like, Rowland may be on his knees, but Dexys return is a triumph.
The Herald, September 20th 2012 ends