Baxter Dury

Baxter Dury at Plug, Sheffield, England, November 6, 2018,

Nov 15, 2018 Photography by Adam Houghton Web Exclusive
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It's better to be late than never, and if that saying could be applied to anyone in music right now there's no one more appropriate that Baxter Dury. As the son of legendary punk and New Wave artist Ian Dury it's probably fair to say music's been in his blood since the day he was born. From appearing on the cover of his dad's debut album New Boots and Panties!! back in 1977 aged five, to carving out a career of his own. Baxter Dury's time in the spotlight is long overdue. 

Not that any of it can be laid at his feet. Blame us. You, me, everyone that's spent the past two decades chasing trends or wallowing in retrospective nostalgia rather than taking the time to check out Dury's innovative catalogue. Because over the course of his five albums to datesince if you include last month's collaborative effort B.E.D with Etienne de Crécy and Delilah Holidayhe's constantly changed direction. Tapping into the zeitgeist of the day with each twist and turn yet always timeless in execution.

Even now, listening back to 2002's debut Len Parrot's Memorial Lift, it's clear he had a vision from the outset. Check out the orchestral "Oscar Brown" for instance, which sounds like a Pink Floyd outtake channelled through the wit and wisdom of a latter day Jarvis Cocker. He's never made music to fit into society's glove compartment or sat on the fence either. Going through that back catalogue now in chronological order tells a story of its own, and while it's only now that widespread recognition is finally heading his way, it's been richly deserved from the outset.

Because last year's Prince of Tears undoubtedly provided a turning point. Or indeed starting point for many. Released on Heavenly Recordings in October 2017 just months after signing for the label, the album received a wealth of critical acclaim for a raft of publications making it a late shoe-in for many of end of year "Best Of" lists. A record that provides a symbiotic bridge between Pulp's kitchen sink dramas and the social inequality depicted by Sleaford Mods, it's a largely autobiographical collection of songs that speaks to the populus rather than a single generation. So having conquered numerous festivals this summer, the UK and final leg of his extensive promotional tour for the album resulted in an understandably high demand.

Sheffield on a Tuesday night in November is as unwelcoming a prospect as it sounds, yet here in a city steeped in industrial achievements of yore Dury feels strangely at home. Playing twenty songs over the course of ninety minutes, admittedly focusing on his last three records, he delivers a master-class in cutting edge wordsmithery set to what on the surface appear simplistic, yet insanely catchy melodies. From the dark sentiment of "Isabel" through to "Almond Milk" and its "Leave it alone" refrain. Taking in the desolate "Palm Trees" ("Does she think she's special?") and onto a double take on "Miami" which even a false start first time round can't diminish the mood.

Dury's a modern day poet laureate with an eye for detail and an ear for a tune. "White Coats," taken from the aforementioned B.E.D collaboration sounds accomplished even in such esteemed company. While the material he plays from Prince of Tears' predecessors, 2011's Happy Soup and 2014's It's a Pleasure fit perfectly, sounding unintentionally as if their creator was planning this trilogy all along. 

Of course those comparisons with his late father will continue, if only because they share the same surname. But make no mistake here; Baxter Dury is a star in his own right and one that's soundtracking the rise and fall of the new millennial in the most dignified and distinguished way imaginable.

www.baxterdury.net

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