Music Features Writer
1:00 AM 11th September 2023
Dexys- The Soul Rebels Return In Style
Photo: Graham Clark
When Dexys Midnight Runners released their debut album Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
in 1980, it marked the beginning of a successful career for Kevin Rowland, singer, songwriter, and leader of the Midlands-based group.
Via a journey from the northern soul roots of that debut album to the Celtic Soul Brothers
period, which spawned the worldwide hit Come On Eileen
, through to the new album, The Feminine Divine
, Rowland has been the mainstay of the group, despite the many incarnations both musically and visually of Dexys.
"Tonight we are going to play our new album in its entirety," he introduced to loud cheers from the sold-out audience at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, "followed by some older songs in the second half," he continued, to an even louder cheer.
For a band to play a new album from beginning to end could either be viewed as confident or arrogant; in Dexys case, it is the former. The new record displays the concepts of masculinity and femininity with some of the best songs that Rowland has composed to date.
Performed as a theatrical piece where Rowland is the dominant male and violinist Claudia Chopek is the female protagonist, tracks from The Feminine Divine
appeared to come alive. Now aged seventy, his voice has mellowed somewhat, though on My Submission he still sounded soulful and emotional, providing the highlight of the first half of the evening.
Rather than being something to endure before the hit-laden second half, the complete version of The Feminine Divine
was delightful, delectable, and utterly compelling—a brave move that worked superbly.
Naturally, the fans jumped out of their seats as Come On Eileen
was performed. Staying true to the original, the song sounded magnificent, taking the audience back to the summer of 1982, when the song was released. Other Dexys classics, such as Geno Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)
were accompanied by a video montage that showed the many versions of Dexys throughout the years.