Review: Baxter Dury @ Felons Barrel Hall (Brisbane)

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  • Wednesday, 08 June 2022 10:49
Baxter Dury played Felons Barrel Hall (Brisbane) 5 June, 2022. Baxter Dury played Felons Barrel Hall (Brisbane) 5 June, 2022.

Brisbane's Felons Barrel Hall (5 June) glittered beneath the giant disco ball hanging from its ceiling.

Under those reflected beams, the faces in the crowd were taken in by the twinkling eye and cheek of British performer Baxter Dury, spouting his sordid tales about wretched characters.

For the uninitiated, Baxter Dury is best known as the progeny of legendary rocker Ian Dury, the late leader of The Blockheads and scribe of such hits as 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' and 'Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll'.

It's a massive shadow to live under, but over the course of 20 years Baxter has carved out his own successful career releasing six albums full of lonely characters and disco beats, warranting last year's 'best of' collection, 'Mr Maserati'.

While not reaching the chart-heights of his father, Baxter has grown a formidable cult of his own including the enthusiastic admirers attending his debut Brisbane performance.

As a member of local punks SixFtHick, Geoff Corbett has an unhinged stage presence thrashing around and screaming himself hoarse. As a member of openers Shifting Sands, Geoff was subdued, seated as his sandpaper croon rode upon his bandmates' maudlin tunes.

The songs may have been downbeat, but the mood was far from it. Between songs, Geoff let his humour shine through, dedicating songs to tracksuit pants and the threadfin salmon swimming in the Brisbane River, which the venue overlooked.

As each song reached a crescendo, Geoff became possessed by his youth, waving his flannelette-sleeved arms and rising from his stool, but anchored by the emotional weight of the gorgeous music.

"I hate playing in a place that serves oysters," announced The Goon Sax's Louis Foster during their set. "I never considered the consequences of playing with six oysters in my stomach."

The local trio have come a long way since their start as scrappy-yet-charming teens. Once upon a time, the trio would get guitar cables tangled while swapping instruments and debut new in-progress songs. But tonight they were all business, showcasing a tighter sound with the support of a touring member.

The growth in their musicianship was highlighted when they revisited 'Sweaty Hands' from their debut album. Riley Jones' beats hit harder, a chorus-effected guitar breathed new life into the song, and a hands-free Louis uninhibitedly jerked across the stage, keeping his oysters down.

Smoke filled the stage as a pre-recorded piano chimed from the speakers. All that was visible was a silhouette and the glint of a gold chain, revealed to be Baxter Dury in a white suit, sauntering towards the mic for opening track 'D.O.A.', beginning with a soft Cockney croon to a bellow that's met with excitement from the crowd.

As the opening song faded, Baxter's backing band joined him laying down grimy disco grooves for his geezer poetry.

As Aussie synth player Madelaine Hart's cold coo took the lead on the chorus of 'I'm Not Your Dog', Baxter jerked his body across the stage, throwing in some faux-karate like a Vegas Elvis impersonator.

Baxter's verses are slum poetry, mixing sadness and humour to create gorgeous turns of phrase, like "I'm like a shipping tycoon, full of promise and cum".

He is light on banter, bar countless cries of "Bris-baaayne!" But his physicality was pure showmanship; he rolled back his suit jacket and exposed his bare shoulders absorbing the erupting squeals from the crowd, eventually taking it off and tossing to the side, his bare arms slithering around him.

The cold funk of 'Miami' infected the entire room. Heads bobbed, hips swung, and Baxter strutted like a rooster. As the song faded, Baxter approached the mic and bellowed: "We love you, Brisbane! You're better than anywhere else!"

He's likely said it to every place he's played, but that didn't stop the crowd reciprocating with adoring cheers, enraptured by the charm of a true showman.

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