4th June 2016
Retro’s original venue of Queen of The South Football Club’s Palmerston Park was hastily changed to Eastbrook Hall in Dumfries following the cancellation of the Boomtown Rats, Rick Astley and The Rezillos. The Stars of The Commitments and ABC were all that were left of what could’ve been an amazing night with an eclectic mix of punk, post punk and New Romantics synth pop sounds under one roof. Instead we had a very well oiled wedding party in one suite and a very brave attempt at ‘the show must go on’ in the other making for an altogether surreal experience.
Alan Parkers multi award and Bafta winning movie The Commitments was filmed a quarter of a century ago and told the tale of a soul band nearly attaining stardom in a touching and moving piece of fiction. This ironically lead to the stars riding on the crest of the movie tide and becoming fact, playing live for President Bush in Capitol house in 2005, a highlight of original cast member and bassist Ken McCluskey’s career.
Myles Hyland on lead vocals took us on a soul filled voyage that lasted 2 hours with his energy and remarkably unwavering distinctive voice holding firm despite the longevity of the set.. Sandra Hyland and Antoinette Dunleavy singing backing vocals kept us highly entertained with their unique and over the top animated dancing that transported us to the early nineties pretty pronto. Mustang Sally, Chain of Fools, Take Me To The River, Try A Little Tenderness, Nowhere to Run, In The Midnight Hour and Hard To Handle had the audience captivated with their performance . I nipped out to take a breather from the heat indoors and discovered a lone female kilted bagpipe player engaging the passers by outside in the glorious gardens serenading the setting sun and the wedding party stragglers. She was tremendous though nothing to do with the Retro gig.
The Commitments have played with top blues and soul legends such as BB KIng and the late great James Brown and more recently with Black Eyed Peas. If you want to catch them then they are playing in the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Friday 17th June.
After a brief interlude ABC bounded onstage. Martin Fry shimmied smoothly in his sharp suit much faster than looks humanly possible for a man his age. The audience were as entertaining as the band was professional. I’ve never been at a gig where pretty much all the males sang the words so seriously and intensely to their partners as they tried to emulate the dance moves going on on stage. It could easily have been narrated by David Attenborough as a rare insight into the human male’s mating ritual..a fascinating eye opener and from the balcony we had a birds eye view.
All the golden oldies were sung, The Look of Love (saved for the last song of couse) Poison Arrow which weirdly was sung again on the encore. We did get a glimpse of Lexicon of Love’s sequel Lexicon of Love 2 with Viva Love which unlike their song title That Was Then and This is Now sounded like it was made back in the day 34 years ago due to the bands singular style and unique orchestral maneuvers. A slick performance nonetheless that can be caught between now and November at a multitude of venues : the next one is Lets Rock Birmingham on the 11th June when they will be playing with Scottish acts of yesteryear Altered Images and Midge Ure