Tuesday, 3 December 2013

MUSIC REVIEW: The Duckworth Lewis Method

Neil Hannon & Thomas Walsh find themselves literally in the Limelight at the end of their ELO-inspired cricket punk tour – and they do not disappoint

"So now you know what happens in the studio when we're making these records."

Thus speaks Neil Hannon as the cricket collective that he and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash set up four years ago, The Duckworth Lewis Method, nears the end of their Sticky Wickets tour.

It's not so much the wickets that have been sticky, however, as the floor of Belfast's Limelight, and Hannon references this in one of many not-even-cricket-related asides that Hannon, Walsh and their band will toss in on the night.

A night that, to me, can be summed up best as jiggery, pokery, trickery, jokery tomfoolery, going by the lyrics and tone of one of their most well-known tunes (listen above). As entertainers, Hannon & Walsh can deliver shows that amount to a nonsensical mess, but how exciting and energising they are.

The Duckworth Lewis Method's album covers look like they're all about cricket, and their songs could be perceived as being solely about cricket, but the band as a whole go way beyond cricket. Their ELO-inspired, vaudevillian punk transcends the appeal of a game not everyone – especially not this writer – fully understands. As promising as the earnest and rollicking melodies of support act The Statics are, they are mild-mannered by comparison.

Contemporary fads like Movember and the best (or worst) of celebrity gossip are slyly merged with a collection of tunes that range from joyously ridiculous to simply sublime. One is lost in the roars of delight that regularly emerge from all corners of the Limelight, throughout the hilarity of "The Laughing Cavaliers", the funky beat of "Boom Boom Afridi" and a handful of truly unexpected 1980s covers, to name but a few.

But we also marvel at how seamlessly both Hannon & Walsh tie in a well-known sport with everyday life and lovely melodies. "The Nightwatchman" and "Out In The Middle" are strong cases in point; the latter could be about a cricket fielder, but also about a man trapped at a metaphorical crossroads.

If asked about the evening, I'm sure Hannon & Walsh would say "It's Just Not Cricket", but really, It's Not Just Cricket. And it's all the better for it.