Dexys Premiere Gig-Doc Nowhere Is Home In London

IN 2012, ANYONE CONVINCED that the years-later comeback album was doomed to failure was forced to eat their words by Dexys’ One Day I’m Going To Soar, an unrestrained song-cycle of romantic pain and redemption that arrived a full 27 years after its predecessor Don’t Stand Me Down.

“Mainman Kevin Rowland acts out his flawed longings for leading lady Madeleine Hyland.”

In April 2013 the group played their resurrection album during a residency at the Duke Of York’s theatre in London’s West End, and it’s these shows that provide the basis for Nowhere Is Home, a portrait/concert movie given its premiere last Friday at the BFI Southbank. Already a dramaturgical experience, One Day I’m Going To Soar suits the up-close screen treatment: throughout, dapper, commanding mainman Kevin Rowland acts out his flawed longings for leading lady Madeleine Hyland, and on the big screen his facial tremorings, painted-black bitten nails and soulful delivery transmit broiling inner struggle. The suavely-attired band – also including on-stage foil Pete Williams, but unfortunately not keyboardist Mick Talbot – are convincing to the extent that you may well feel like applauding between songs like Incapable Of Love, Free and the nostalgia-spurning new arrangements of oldies Tell Me When My Light Turns Green and This Is What She’s Like.

The Dexys of <em>One Day I’m Going To Soar</em>: (from left) Lucy J Morgan, Mick Talbot, Kevin Rowland, Madeleine Hyland, Big Jim Paterson, Pete Williams.

The songs are intercut with interview footage of Rowland and trombonist Big Jim Paterson, with the intense and somewhat fragile singer explaining how he got here and admitting, “I’ve always been a very nervous performer.” Paterson, a longstanding Dexys member who’d given up music before Rowland called him back, stays largely silent, though he does at one point state, with emotion, “I’ve bled for Dexys.” Sadly there isn’t time for the full documentary post-mortem of, say, the boxer-stevedore Dexys of Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, but as a portrait of the resurgent band fans will need to see it.

After the screening, there was a Q&A with Rowland, Paterson and filmmaker Paul Kelly. The singer announced that while watching the film was “excruciating”, he declared himself happy with it, and wishes that past epochs of Dexys had been captured on film in similar style. When someone in the crowd asks him when he’s going to move into acting, Kevin says, “We are acting.” Directed by Kelly and Kieran Evans – the team who gave us the Saint Etienne doc Finisterre in 2003 – it’s expected to get a wider release in September. See the trailer here...