Dexy's Midnight Runners - Manchester Academy 1 - 6.11.03

The return of the Young Soul Rebels couldn't have been more highly anticipated and this time Kevin Rowland isn't in a dress. One of the few 80s bands to have retained their dignity and not joined the Here And Now nostalgia tours where bands that should have been forgotten are dragged out for one last public airing before being left to die in some cheap retirement home. Dexys were never a true 80s band in the sense that we now associate that decade with cheap casio synths, new romantic
glamour and school disco's. They were always trying to be a soul band, and although we generally use the phrase white soul band in a deregatory sense...Dexy's were and still are the only inspirational white soul band.

Kevin Rowland, Pete Williams and Lucy Morgan are joined by Mick Talbot on keys, a three piece horn section and full band to recreate the rich soul sound they played back in the day. It couldn't have been done any other way and although some of the songs are slower tonight, presumably accounting for their maturing years, it's essentially the Dexys we all know and love. As Rowland announces before "Jackie Wilson Said", "A few of the songs might sound different to how you remember them. That's cos we've changed them. The whole world is changing, why shouldn't we?". While Dexys had an element of cabaret and pastiche about them, they also developed on the original soul genre they pilferred from and made it uniquely British in the process. "I Love You (Listen To This)" from the bands classic "Don't Stand Me Down" album is a personal favourite and "Geno" with it's unmistakeable horn section lifts most people out of the the seats and down to the front. Surprisingly "Manhood", the bands new track to promote the Best Of album, lives up to former glories and gives hope that if the band head into the studio to record new material the results won't entirely destroy the memories of the back catalogue. With the vocal interplay between Rowland and Williams seeming like this a a reunion for the real reasons, ie. the music, rather than the moolah.

With "Come On Eileen", which they leave the stage to, they have a song that often overshadows the rest of the bands catalogue which is unfortunate despite it's undisputed genius. With just a few minutes to spare they return for an encore of "Let's Make This Precious" which wraps up everything that Dexys do so well - the brass stabs underpinned by the violin of Morgan and Rowlands unique vocal tics. Tonight was a gig that few people will forget, but please please make this previous and don't turn into a longstanding cabaret band with the obligatory Xmas tour year in year out. Dexys fans deserve so much more than that.

Alex McCann
Photo's by Karen McBride -

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