Written by Shannon Cotton
Entering the live arena again after two years away, last night’s Heavenly Recordings takeover at The 100 Club culminated in a welcome return for colloquial king Baxter Dury.
Kicking off proceedings, Halifax natives The Orielles provide a fitting warm up with delicately honed surfer indie with a loaded bite, which breezes through the speakers inside the legendary central London haunt. Although youthful in appearance, the tenacious trio deliver perfectly woozy instrumentals and sugar coated vocals reminiscent of a retro musicality which harks back longer than their teenage years. The Heavenly signings aren’t afraid to step up their sound a gear either as vocalist Esmé Dee Hand-Halford imparts formidable bass lines which run alongside a welcome cowbell during ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’.
In between the band and Baxter, DJs from the Heavenly label woo the audience with their Northern Soul tinged vinyl cuts.
Essences of Britpop bleed through into the delivery of Baxter Dury’s lyrics as he takes to the stage. Joined by a full live band the musician teeters between spoken word and singing, with Baxter’s instantly recognisable voice always being the main focal point of the set. For all the dancing, anecdotes and words of wisdom after songs relayed in his unmistakeable lilt, there are tracks inflected with deeply personal tales. After an ode to Baxter’s mother, he addresses the crowd, “We’re just a group of people trying not to be normal,” before a performance of ‘Prince Of Tears’ (the title track of his new album) sees the artist showcase his piano ballad credentials.
As the gig begins to draw to a close, Baxter introduces the new single, ‘Miami’. Unashamedly forward, the opening line in the track is, “I don’t think you know how successful I am”. With the crowd hanging off of the singer’s every word, they definitely know just how successful he is.