_Duckworth Lewis Method by Colm Kelly_Photo Credit Colm Kelly__0807

Duckworth Lewis Method in The Olympia Theatre on 27th November 2013

Late in the game at tonight’s Olympia gig, Thomas Walsh introduces a song “about a very boring aspect of cricket.” The glib reply from Tosh Flood to his left speaks for a large proportion of Duckworth Lewis Method fans – “All of it.” How then, from a game so dull, can Neil Hannon and Walsh craft not one, but two perfectly realised concept albums around its nuances and characters? The eponymous first album filtered the 60’s best of The Beatles, Bowie, Ray Davies and The Small Faces, while the second, ‘Sticky Wickets’, followed those bands into the next decade, albeit with more of the rambunctiousness of The Faces than that band’s earlier incarnation.

The retro jangle of The Statics proves a lively precursor to tonight’s headline act, drawing influence from The La’s with their Dublin-via-Liverpool harmonies and infectious pop hooks. Hints of rockabilly creep into their set courtesy of their drummer, but it’s when their singer switches to electric for first single Holiday that things lift off. The bass drum pumps an intro as the song takes a rawer, more modern approach than the rest of the selection, still Anglo-centric but somewhere along the lines of Bloc Party or Maximo Park. It’s a high energy venture and a snappy set, it’s just a shame the audience is penned into seats for the duration.

Duckworth Lewis Method walk onstage – dapper of dress and Panama of hat – to a synth line straight out of ‘Whos’ Next’, going straight into a Stones-y and suggestive Sticky Wickets. It’s a suitably sleazy 70’s start complete with some foot-on-monitor action from Hannon, even if he cites The Quo more so than the Stones when it’s over. “You came! We’re so pleased” grins Hannon as he welcomes us into a night of ‘cricket rock’ only to be chastised by Walsh – “cricket pop!” The two men fire off one another throughout the set, and if nary a note were struck all night the entertainment from the back-and-forth between them would still be worth the admission fee. Hannon is ribbed about his choice of bream for dinner and a slew of fishy puns follow. Abba’s I Have A Bream and Crowded House’s Don’t Bream It’s Over precede their own loungey Out In The Middle, but the night’s most successful novelty venture comes from Hannon’s keyboard.

Neil, do My Lovely Horse, go on” says Walsh. “Fuck Off.” The audience of Mrs Doyles (“Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…”) coax Hannon into willing submission for the smoothest rendition of the Father Ted classic we’ve ever heard – until Walsh comes in on kazoo. There’s still room for some poignancy and pathos amongst the shenanigans, with The Umpire and The Nightwatchman dealing with the more marginalised characters of the game in downbeat fashion. Rain Stops Play midway through prompting a toilet exodus; Walsh holds the fort until they re-appear to the hiphop, 80’s funk of Line & Length and Hannon and Flood trade licks. The Quo raise their overarching heads once more for The Sweet Spot – neither the first nor last time they do during the set, but there ain’t nothing wrong with that and DLM know it.

A Vaudevillian slant is brought to the night with the introduction of The Laughing Cavaliers on backing vocals, sixteen game folk decked out in cricket gear hamming it up behind the band. Jiggery Pokery gets off to a shaky start as Hannon fluffs the lines, but it’s soon on track with the crowd raising a single finger along with the “Dickie Bird” line. Stellar pop songs abound – The Coin Toss; Gentlemen and Players; Mason On The Boundary; Boom Boom Afridi – but no-one is more impressed than Hannon himself that Mystery Man details every major delivery in cricket. After a lengthy discussion on childhood, schooldays, tuck shops, Meanies and Ray Davies’ ballbag, The Cavaliers re-appear for the last hurrah and Meeting Mr Miandad draws the gig to a final knees-up. Well, it would have if anyone had stood up. This gig and all it contains almost…almost…makes us want to appreciate cricket. It’s shit though, innit…we’ll just let Duckworth Lewis Method be our guides.

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Photos: Colm Kelly