Dexy’s Midnight Runners Newcastle Exhibition Park 1982: Radio 1 in Concert from the Big Top

Dexy’s Midnight Runners Newcastle Newcastle Exhibition Park 1982
Radio 1 in Concert from the Radio One Big Top
I went to see Dexy’s on Monday, and this has encouraged me to reflect on my previous experiences of the band. This gig was the second time I saw Kevin Rowland and the band, and the last time until I saw them again this week, and it was just amazing. I’d seen Dexy’s once before at the time of Geno, in Newcastle Mayfair. They were good that night, but nothing could have prepared me for this gig. The concert was one of (I think) two which were held in a large marquee on Exhibition Park as part of a Radio One in Concert weekend. The other gig was The Boomtown Rats, and I decided to go along to one of the gigs. I’m so glad I chose this show, because it was a revelation. Part of the reason that it was so good was the surprise element. Neither Come on Eileen or the album Too-Rye-Ay had been released at this point, and the image of Dexy’s that I had in my head was of the soul rebels in their donkey jackets and wooly hats. This was the first performance of the new gyspy folk Dexy’s, and the entire crowd was just stunned when the band came on stage, Kevin dressed in a pair of dungarees and with his new curly hair cut. You could see that everyone was just speechless and totally shocked by the complete transformation that the band had undergone. They were straight into a set which drew heavily from the forthcoming Too-Rye-Ay lp with its hybrid of soul and Celtic folk. They also included Geno, and Jackie Wilson said. The rest of the band were dressed in dungarees, scarves, leather waistcoats, and what was described at the time as “a generally scruffy right-off-the-farm look”. Kevin Rowland said at the time of the new image: “These are my best clothes. Again it just feels right for the music. Everybody else is dressing up sort of straight-laced and we come in wearing these and it’s like, y’know here we are, a bit of hoedowning is even possible”. And hoedown they did.
radio1Once I got over the shock of the new image and the new line-up, I just sat back and enjoyed the music. How could you not enjoy those infectious folk tunes. This was the first time the new lp, including Come on Eileen was played live and the only time that the line-up featured the Searching for the Young Soul Rebels-era horn section alongside the Too-Rye-Ay-era strings. I knew that night that the new lp and those songs were going to be massive. Come on Eileen hit the charts and soared to number one a few weeks later and the band were back to play to a sold-out City Hall, a gig which I missed in order to see The Jam’s final North East gig at Whitley Bay (which was the right choice, but I still regret missing Dexy’s that night!). I remember going home buzzing about the gig, still not being quite able to take in or believe what I had seen. I tried to explain to my friends how good it had been, but they didn’t get it until they saw them performing Come On Eileen on Top of the Pops a few weeks later. This was one of those gigs which I wish I could return to and relive. The show was released on CD 13 years later in 1995 and features the following tracks: TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia); Burn It Down; Let’s Make This Precious; Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile); Come on Eileen; Respect; Soon; Plan B; Geno; Old; The Celtic Soul Brothers; There, There, My Dear; Show Me.
Note. I’ve just found (30 Jan 2014) a programme for the Radio 1 Weekend, which this concert must have been part of. The weekend featured all the DJs (Tony Blackburn, Peter Powell, Keith Chegwin etc) plus personal appearances by Dexys, Haircut 100 and others. There was also a local band stage which featured among others The Toy Dolls. The programme includes a free flexi single by Lindisfarne (although they were not appearing as they were on tour at the time). Fascinating stuff. I’d forgotten all about this.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by michael guthrie on July 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    ,what a great review true and from the heart, i was at both and cld not put into words what i have just read


  2. Posted by Nick Lambert on November 6, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    A really helpful review and a memory prompt for me. I was there too, and have just today (6 November 2020) uploaded and processed the photos which I took on that night in the big top. The photos have turned out really well and I will share them on Facebook.


    • Posted by vintagerock on November 6, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Nick

      Yes I have strong memories of how great Dexys were that night. Happy happy days cheers Peter


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