Sunday, January 15, 2012

Playing uptight in a school place - review of Dodgy

Dodgy at Arlington Arts Centre, Snelsmore, on Wednesday, January 11

BEING in a band with a bit of history is rather like being a chef - you’re eager to get your latest creation tasted by the customers, knowing that they will love it - but you still have to keep the old favourites on the menu, for those who aren’t feeling so adventurous. So it is for popmasters Dodgy - reuniting the original line-up for the first time this century - they are justifiably proud of their new album, Stand Upright In a Cool Place, and so keen for people to hear it ahead of its release on February 20 that they are showcasing on their current tour.

But people aren’t going to come out on a Wednesday in January (and it was a pretty good turn out) without the chance of a few of the old songs, and so the band - singer Nigel Clark, drummer and ringmaster Mathew Priest and guitarist Andy Miller, with the live addition of bassist Stu Thoy (who will be also supporting Dodgy later on their tour with his own band Smoke Feathers) - are playing two sets on their current tour; the first comprising new material, the second featuring some of the old faithfuls from back in the day.

While fully aware of the need roll out the crowd-pleasers, the band’s preference for which songs they would rather be playing was palpable; particularly in the case of Clark, who disclosed a certain inner turmoil which had recently arisen within him over performing their best known songs, with his question to the audience “do we really have to play Staying Out For The Summer?” resulting in a humorously shambolic version, played in a dub reggae style at the suggestion of the crowd.

The new album tracks are incredibly strong though, and do very much stand up in their own right (in a place cool or otherwise), with much-deserved radio play starting to remind the wider world of the band’s talent for harmonies and beautiful tunes. My personal favourites are the heartbreaking Happy Ending, passionate duology Tripped And Fell and Ragged Stone Hill (based on a tragic Malvern legend about a monk who fell in love with a local girl), and forthcoming single What Became Of You, a sparkling slice of summery pop as lovely as any of their ‘90s hits, but with more maturity, and better for it. The new sound is more rounded, with addition of Clark’s acoustic guitar (he was previously the bassist as well as singer) and Miller’s occasional slide guitar and odd stint at the keyboards.

Intertwined with the music was the famed on-stage Dodgy jocularity, led by drummer Priest (“full of grace and charm, but with no airs-and-graces”, was the summary of long-time local Dodgy fan Bill Ainsworth), with much laughter arising over a discussion about musicians they might have annoyed in the ‘90s: “The Cranberries... Damon Albarn... Kingmaker.... Jim Bob from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine... and World Party. Yes, most definitely World Party.”

Mention must go to the support for the evening, a nice solo acoustic set by local singer-songwriter Ed Aldred, culminating in a fine rendition of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out), which may well have been the best-known song of the whole evening, as (possibly partly in response to a fan’s request prior to the gig) Dodgy omitted their biggest hit Good Enough from the setlist, replacing it with Cold Tea, a rarely-played but very sweet song from their 1993 debut album. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t missed. On the night, Dodgy more than proved that they were... wait for it... Good Enough without it. 

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, January 19, 2012

If you are kicking yourself for  missing the gig, Dodgy are on tour around the UK from February. For a full list of gigs, visit

* Newsflash! Competition to win signed copy of Free Peace Sweet! To be in with a chance, visit:

1 comment:

  1. If it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me