Dexys at the Roundhouse
I feel so privileged, being me sometimes. Two hours before this show, I didn’t know it existed. My last night out in London. Don’t look to the past Jerry. You can’t recapture the past. Life is so wonderful sometimes. Humbling, startling. Two hours before, I was scrabbling around with the populace, nothing wrong with that but nothing special either. Now I’m on the tube, leaping over the barriers, racing through the streets high on adrenaline and testosterone and anticipation. Pumped up. Relaxed in the knowledge we’ll have one more swing on the roundabouts before I disappear again, before I become just one more 53-year-old with no present to look forward to. Don’t look to the past Jerry. You can’t recapture the past.
Before the show – of course I manage to scam a ticket to the show – I’m preening, boasting, posting photographs of myself on Facebook. An old drinking buddy comes on and drops a startled OMG! She’s DJ-ing in the bar across the road. I miss her, treasure her. I make a mental note. Thirty minutes before the show I’m sat in the circle, watching in awe at the faces around me, wondering if they too lived these songs every second of the day, every year of their life. Compromise is the devil talking Jerry. Or is that tiredness? Tiredness is the devil calling. I don’t want this moment to end, the anticipation. I never want the anticipation to end. Two years ago – was it three? – I danced through a torrential downpour to prove my devotion, not once removing my hat. Forget Kev and his mates. Maddy ruled the stage, owned it. Remember Kev and his mates. They all owned it.
I feel so humbled. It’s wrong. Never take my opinions for granted, my love. Never assume my love. No, you should never do that.
There was a moment tonight – it came after several songs, several songs in which I could still feel Kevin straining, searching… but not (and let’s whisper this real soft in case others should hear of it and start doubting my devotion) connecting with me. There was a moment, and much as I wanted it to be, it was not this:
And it was not this, either – and that was just plain wrong:
He had another singer on stage with him. I have no idea who she was. (I do actually but it seems unfair to point fingers.) Let’s call her Notmaddy. And Notmaddy didn’t sound or move or command anything like Maddy. I’m sorry. She didn’t have her presence. Her theatrical élan. I’m sorry. I’d have loved her to have done. But she didn’t. And there was no torrential rain falling from the skies for me to dance through either, sodden and swimming through treacle, so I could prove my devotion. Don’t think of the past Jerry. It will only let you down. Man, I wish it had been ‘Thinking Of You’ cos I was so missing the remainder of my family in Brisbane.
And it wasn’t this, because I didn’t stick around for this (even though I knew it was going to happen, obviously):
Man. I sat there, straining with every inch, unable to relax, loving all the sweet soul sounds and Big Jimmy’s trombone (clearly) and the stage banter between Kev and his mates wherein he reduces himself into an inch-perfect replicant of a coked-up drunk-down knob head, and the organ sounds (clearly) and – man alive, that sweet sour soaring violin behind everything. And none of this music is connecting with me. Not really. Not beyond appreciation, and memory. IT’S NOT CONNECTING! And then comes a song, a moment, and the song stretches into minutes and the minutes stretch into a lifetime and the lifetime stretches into infinities, and – Bangs alive! – it’s me down there again, alive, believing, part of Dexys. Not a song I expected. Not a song I deserved. But a song I loved unreservedly, without restraint, for the eight or so glorious minutes it played out. I can’t find a decent version of it on YouTube, so I’ll leave you with a single word.
And here’s the lyrics all the solitary lads were leaping up and down to and punching the air with every word, and straining with every sense in their body to be a part of, Kevin wonderfully mocking and scorning them while simultaneously leading them on, goading.
I can’t fucking wait to go outside and live my life,
unless I’m free and then I’m going to be the man I’m meant to be
And the whole time that fucking song – that fucking gloriously wonderfully insanely wonderfully genius wonderful beautiful life-affirming rip-off-your-trainers-and-set-light-to-the-world song – was playing, all I could think of was: fuck man, listen to that violin. LISTEN TO THAT VIOLIN. That incredible violin serenading the angels, knowing that it’s going unnoticed but still playing out behind the full-on swagger and male banter of the two frontmen (don’t get me wrong: I loved the banter and swearing)… and I thought. How appropriate. How fucking appropriate, it’s a woman playing that violin, providing all the support and succour and sweet soulful serenade, mostly unnoticed behind the two swaggering braggarts boasting about how they don’t need support, marriage, women when… well, when without her, that song would have been fucking nothing.
It was a wonderfully bittersweet moment. Me too. I punched the fucking air. In my head.
And then they turned into a cabaret band with a Stars On 45 drummer (unfair, unfair!) and mutilated ‘Geno’ with a Latino beat, and played two separate versions of ‘There, There, My Dear’ (I supported the intention, just not the execution) and reduced ‘I Love You’ to the merely great, and so I left because I already knew that I love their revamped ‘Come On Eileen’ and couldn’t stand to see them play out ‘This Is What She’s Like’ in such a state, and hopped across the road to see my former drinking buddy who was fucking delighted to see me.
‘She Got A Wiggle’ wasn’t up to much either.
Of course my other friends – the ones I didn’t see – reckoned it was about the most incredible concert they ever saw, and who am I to deny them their chances to prove their devotion. But me? I moved on from that, long ago.