The United States of Kevin Rowland

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Dexys present 'One day I'm Going To Soar' Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - 22 September 2012

If Kevin Rowland didn't exist, someone would invent him as a music theatre character; a Hemingway-Proustian-Jungian crossbreed. And this show would be his life.

Here's the thing; admiration for the creative output of Kevin Rowland is a state of mind, and you're either the card-carrying member who gets it, or you dipped in for a single or two (Geno/Come on Eileen probably), complained about 'Don't Stand me Down' and raised your eyebrow at 'My Beauty' if, indeed, you were even aware of it. If you're in the former camp, you'll have got inside and inhabited the emotional narratives that have always been at the heart of Dexys/Rowland's oeuvre. That's just how it is. And your rewards for staying the distance are plentiful.

Were it anyone else, the billing of '...present their show...' would mean nought but a plough through the latest release, but this is Kevin Rowland and Rowland is, in the truest sense, a renaissance man. So this is an artist playing a character called Kevin Rowland, interpreting his acclaimed long player in a show that could be described as post-Post Modern meta-music hall. All spivved-up Cotton Club garb, the crack musical team including former Midnight Runner stalwarts Big Jim Patterson, Pete Williams and Mick Talbot, are complicit in Rowland's vision of melding music theatre performance with passion play.

the united states of kevin rowland zani 2.jpgTaking the new record as its core, the show is a charged paean to identity, love, loss and ultimately redemption. And if you've followed the latest instalment of the Kevin Rowland/Dexys saga over the last six months, you'll have noticed that whilst still maintaining that cautionary eye for the perceived media fool, Rowland sounds like he's finally reached a place of safety. He just seems more comfortable, less spikey and defensive than last time he was on the merry-go-round of interviews. And that's a thing to be praised because that burning inside (used to great comic effect in the show) is now directed into a career defining performance. It's almost as if all of Rowland's roads have been leading to this moment; the career highpoint. For some, highpoint is defined by chart placing, not so Rowland, in his world it's about doing it exactly as he wants to do it (and, by osmosis, swimming in the joy of his audience) and that's apparent towards the latter part of the evening when the character mask slips and Rowland truly connects with his audience; this is redemption en-masse and we're all in on it. It really is joy, pure joy.

Recent reviews of this show have described it as 'brave', 'unique' and 'gamble', but they're missing the point; this is Kevin Rowland, this is what he's always done, uncompromising, maverick, totally out there. Hence 'Dexys Present their show...' is neither unique, brave nor a gamble. It's Kevin Rowland doing it his way. Loving it and being loved for it. This is what he's like.

© Words - Chris Madden/ ZANI Media

© Top Photograph Christine van der Merwe
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Read 2915 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:24
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