Music review: Dexys, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

The first half of this high-concept show may have lacked conviction, but the party came to those who waited, writes Fiona Shepherd

Dexys, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ****

Live sightings of Dexys (formerly Dexys Midnight Runners) are all too rare these days and their fervent fans grab them with both hands, prostrating themselves before frontman Kevin Rowland’s whims, whimsy and general idiosyncratic eccentricity.

In several respects, his band’s first new album in a decade is classic Dexys. The Feminine Divine is rooted in soul and R&B, earnestly conceived and delivered here in its entirety as a “performance” – by which Rowland meant that he and his band would awkwardly act out the conversational exchanges which mark Rowland’s journey from toxic masculinity to over-compensating adulation of his female goddess, haltingly portrayed by Claudia Chopek, who seemed much happier providing the key fiddle parts than she was laying down the female law.

Dexys PIC: Sandra VijandiDexys PIC: Sandra Vijandi
Dexys PIC: Sandra Vijandi
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In contrast, saxophonist Sean Read was a game participant on saxophone, keys, vocals and bad acting and Rowland committed to a brave falsetto on squeamish piano devotional My Submission. Unusually for a Rowland enterprise, this first half lacked conviction and Dexys’ signature musical oomph and it was not difficult to echo keyboard player Michael Timothy’s line, "Kevin, what was all that about?"

However, the party came to those who waited as the band returned to solid musical ground in the second half, revisiting beloved material from their first two albums. Everything sounded more vibrant, from the heroic solos of Read and trombonist Alistair Whyte to the soulful doo-wop of Until I Believe In My Soul.

The hits were saved until last, with Come On Eileen lifting the audience as one to their feet and an encore comprising their two classic tributes to soul music greats – the brass swagger of Geno and the exuberant Jackie Wilson Said (so good they played it twice), with the traditional comical nod during the latter to darts champ Jocky Wilson – as well as the moving slow dance of Carrickfergus.