Dexys Running Again
No ‘Come On Eileen’, but plenty else to enjoy
Olympia Theatre, Dublin
How on earth does any musician or band come back from a song that not only defines them (for better or worse) but also becomes their musical epitaph? If you’re Kevin Rowland, the main creative force behind Dexys – a regenerated band formerly known as Dexys Midnight Runners, whose 1982 hit single, the wedding-band staple ‘Come On Eileen’, changed their life – you do the best you can to redefine, to redraft the template that made you want to pursue music in the first place.
It hasn’t been easy, of course, dismantling the yolk of their halcyon, chart-topping days. Rowland, specifically, has drifted through some wilderness years. But here he is again, bowed, perhaps, but certainly not out, plugging the first band-format album, ‘One Day I’m Going to Soar’, from Dexys in almost 30 years.
The album is loosely conceptual, focusing on the ageing process, the creative urge and the inability to find love via songs that mine a far more theatrical intent than anything the singer has previously managed.
Despite some toe-curling moments – not all of the amateur dramatics work – it helps that the band’s new singer, Madeleine Hyland, is cast as an idealised screen beauty. She and Rowland camp it up as cautious would-be lovers in ‘She Got a Wiggle’, ‘You’ and ‘I’m Always Going to Love You’. The band, which includes old musician mates Jim Paterson and Pete Williams, fuels the songs with lacerating blasts of soul/rock.
Inevitably, the biggest cheers of the night arrive when Rowland and company acknowledge the past with new arrangements of ‘Geno’, ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’ and ‘This Is What She’s Like’. The bad news for avid fans? No ‘Come On Eileen’. The good news for some? It didn’t matter: this was as much an evening of carefully looking back as cautiously looking forward, overseen by Rowland, whose status as a true original and die-hard maverick remains intact.