Scratchy sound mixes and a low energy first part of the concert meant that The Duckworth Lewis Method nudged and nurdled their way through a concert they might otherwise have smitten for six.
Cricket is a game that can baffle the uninitiated, consisting as it does of substantial longeurs enlivened by bursts of action (although, sometimes only action by comparison with the torpor that went before). So it was with this evening session in the company of Hannon and Walsh.
Neil Hannon (dayjob: The Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh (Pugwash) have gone beyond moonlighting with their cricket-themed sideline: DLM are touring off the back of their second album, Sticky Wickets, the follow-up to their widely acclaimed eponymous debut, released in 2009.
A DLM gig is about cricket, for sure, but it is also a chance to see two of Ireland’s finest songwriters riff on their enormous talent. The duo also do a great line in banter. Their easy charm and ready musicality make them great company on an evening out, even if one’s usual musical tastes don’t extend to a song that includes in its lyrics the names of every conceivable type of cricket bowling (Mystery Man). A shame then that much of the lyrical wit and dexterity was lost to a sound mix that prioritised a grungy band effect over lyrical clarity.
Opening with the title track from the new album and moving quickly though Age of Revolution and Boom Boom Afridi, there was a curious lack of energy to initial proceedings. On the other hand, some of the early highlights were the slower tempo more reflective numbers: Gentleman and Players had a nice complexity to its slight musical rearrangement that really worked, while the spare beauty of The Umpire was a paradoxical joy. The Umpire is a vignette of estrangement and alienation from the modern world, a poignant fable hung on the hook of the slow (and now seemingly, sadly irreversible) twilit obsolescence of umpires in the modern cricket game.
The salacious Sweet Spot missed the vocals of Cathy Davey (who appears on the album) to give it its properly cheeky reading. Even the spontaneous interjection of My Lovely Horse didn’t lift the mood in quite the way it might have done.
However, the slightly passionless, rough-edged first half got the lift it needed from the evening’s special guests. Although Sticky Wickets features Stephen Fry and Daniel Radcliffe, it was one of the album’s lesser known contributors who took to the stage on Wednesday: the massed ranks of the Dublin social cricket team, the Theatrical Cavaliers.
Their fun, their energy and their evident madcap enthusiasm for being there infused Laughing Cavaliers with spade-loads of the vibrant bar-room sing-along qualities it aspires to (but doesn’t quite attain) on CD, while their backing vocals on Just Not Cricket seemed to infuse energy into audience and band alike.
It was a turning point: the wonderful Jiggery Pokery and Third Man, among others (including an audacious inclusion of the not-obviously-gig-friendly Nudging and Nurdling) were delivered with a brio that saw the gig winningly home, rounded out with an encore of the aforementioned Mystery Man, delivered with a full-blown boogie-woogie style piano and harmonies, and a romping Meeting Mr Miandad.
Review by Simon Mills
Gig was on the 27-11-13 in the Olympia Theatre.