I got into Dexys with Geno. I was really lucky in that my brother told me about this great record before it hit the charts. He was in the RAF in Shawbury, Shropshire and I went to visit him for a few days. After he'd left home I missed him. We should have been out getting pissed together, courting girls, normal growing up stuff and now he was gone. Something told me he wouldn't be back. He taught me the song, not formally, he just sang it out loud at every opportunity and eventually I joined in. Our version of Geno was sung out loud in various areas of Shrewsbury and its outskirts. By the end of my visit I knew all the words to the song and didn't even have a copy yet! Dexys and Geno became an intrinsic part of my life and some of the glue that bonded my relationship with my brother. We were able to watch Geno gradually climb the chart (it entered the British chart at number 61!) and eventually hit number one. It was a really exciting time. I still love Geno but when I heard Dexys' version of Breakin' Down The Walls Of Heartache on the b-side I just knew they were something special. I'd always had my own personal view of what constitutes soul music and here it was, really passionate but serious and meaningful. I played both sides of that single over and over again.

Then I read in a magazine that Geno was their 2nd single. I couldn't believe that I'd missed a single. I rang my brother but he didn't know anything about it. We tried for weeks and failed to get Dance Stance. It had been such a small hit that all the copies had sold out and then it was deleted so impossible to order. I went on holiday to Germany (I have family there) and in Köln (Cologne to foreigners) there is a massive railway station with a market below ground. I was lazily looking through a pile of singles and came across about 10 copies of Dance Stance. YES! I just KNOW that I was meant to find them. I wouldn't have even been looking if my train hadn't been late. Then I had to wait 2 whole days before I got home and was able to play it. I got a copy for my brother, of course. What a song! You had to have an IQ to understand it. Even if you did manage to work out what the song was about it probably insulted you. Everybody I'd ever met told jokes about the Irish, resorted to the weak, hostile, ultimately rascist view that they were thick, stupid. I'd never thought about how humour could be hostile before this moment listening to Dance Stance, it was educating me. Wow! This definitely wasn't any ordinary group. I never told another rascist joke of any kind after Dance Stance. Only personal politics maybe, but who says music can't change things? We were only 2 singles in. How can a band become your all-time favourite after 2 singles? What if they didn't mean it? This became a crucial thought. What if they didn't mean it? I had to see Dexys for myself. The music press didn't help. I'd already worked out that they were Liars A to E.

It was a cold spring night in 1980 when I went to see Dexys Midnight Runners. Our breath froze in the air. With me was a French girl, Yolande Baillon, what ever happened to her? I'd only met her for the first time the week before. Now I was meeting her off a bus in Lord Street, Liverpool and taking her to see Dexys. We walked to the club, arms around each other to keep warm. She'd never heard of them. I tried to explain. When I used the word 'soul' she went off on a tangent.
'What like....Stevie Wonder? or Diana Ross.'
'No, No, not like them,' I said.
'Like Marvin Gaye then?'
'No, no, not even like Marvin Gaye.'
'Who are they like? They must be like someone.'
'Maybe like Geno Washington. Have you heard of him?'
'No, what is he like?'
'I've no idea.'
She laughed at me, 'Crazy Englishman.'
'Yeah, crazy' and I laughed too.

The club was dingy. The carpets stuck to your feet. It smellt of damp, stale tobacco and spillt beer that hadn't been cleaned up. We were early, there were only about 100 people there. I never counted heads but I don't think many more people turned up. Quite soon the support group were on. The Upset featured one Archie Brown on vocals and occasional sax. He had a weird rasping voice, it squealed and strangled itself around the vocals. I liked them. They were powerful,angry and soulful. It was going to be a good night. An hour passed after the Upset had played. Where were Dexys? I had to get home on the bus. I was on the dole and didn't have enough money for a taxi. Then onto stage ambled a lone figure, it took a while to realise he was telling jokes. The audience were getting restless. A few shouts of 'Geno, Geno, Geno' started. I thought he was funny and tried to listen. The 'Geno' brigade wandered off to the bar and about 50 people were left standing in front of the stage. The comedian started telling a joke about shagging a donkey (no, really!) which got a few sniggers. He was trying to shock with obscenity but it wasn't working. He was staring into the audience, looking at each face in turn. He settled on me and we looked into each others eyes. He stopped telling the donkey joke and shouted,
'There! There's someone who's listening!' 50 people were all looking at me now. 'What's your name?'
'Come up here Eddie.'
Quick as a flash I said the only thing possible, 'No,' and the comedian just as quickly went on with the joke. I was quite impressed that he wasn't at all phased by his inability to extract a village idiot from the audience. But my 'no' had been final and he knew it. There was no way I was being made to look like a twat tonight of all nights. Of course, several things went through my mind in that split second. Including, 'I might get to meet the band. The comedian's name? Keith Allen.

We waited another hour, at least, before Dexys arrived on stage. It looked like I would be walking home. I remember thinking that they had better be worth it. They were incredible. Like nothing else. I really, really loved it. The stage entrance was so quick it took everyone by surprise. There was a blast of hot air from the brass. You could actually feel it. The 'Geno' brigade rushed back from the bar and started to shout mid-song 'Geno, Geno, Geno,' immediately there was a tension between band and audience. At first they were ignored but you could tell the band were pissed off. Then I noticed Al (Kevin) Archer pointing threateningly into the crowd. He was arguing with someone in the 'Geno' brigade. Maybe this had happened before, at other venues. The first few songs were a blur. I don't know what they opened with. It was definitely an instrumental. Maybe, The Teams That Meet in Caffs. I mostly remember smiling a lot, thinking, 'Yes! They mean it! They actually mean it!'

Most memorable song was Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire. It was a weird venue with loads of false columns all around the place. The tiny stage (too small for the band) had rows of columns on either side of the stage to the bar at the back, so who ever was on stage couldn't see left or right. This clearly pissed off Kevin and before the song he said, 'I don't know what's going on over there (pointing left) and I don't know what's going on over there (pointing right) but right here (pointing to the floor) is pure soul.' Then he started to sing the falsetto verses. The larger part of the audience started to laugh but Kevin (who had noticed) just carried on singing. His concentration was immense and his performance, well, fantastic. There are no adequate superlatives. When he got to the 'Ooh ooh a a' chorus the whole audience was hooked, including those who'd laughed. Everybody dancing and singing 'Ooh Ooh a a.' Actually, at this point it struck me as funny that 200 or so people were singing 'Ooh ooh a a' out loud.


By now the 'Geno' brigade were pissing me off too. There was no let up. 'Geno, Geno, Geno' between every song. I'd only heard the 4 songs from the singles before the concert. I wanted to listen, dance and sing. Kevin had been telling them to fuck off. 'No, we're not playing it, fuck off!' 'It's boring now, fuck off.' He was really aggressive towards them and, I swear, they were scared. Eventually they gave up and stopped shouting about 10th song in, then and only then Kevin said, 'This is for those people who were here last time we played in Liverpool. Only 10 people came to see us.' The band started shouting, 'Geno, Geno, Geno' and all of those who had waited for it were suddenly delirious. The whole performance had been really tense, you felt that violence could spark at any moment. The tension was turned into sheer adoration. Kevin was so focussed he verged on possessed. During Geno he played a guitar and at one point hit Pete Williams, who was standing next to him, on the head with the guitar neck. There was blood, I think, but Kevin didn't notice and kept playing. Pete had doubled over in pain but got up again and carried on. At the end of the song someone (JB, I think) pointed out what had happened and Kevin went to see if Pete was OK. Kevin was really concerned, talking to Pete and the gig stopped for a few minutes. I didn't think Pete was OK but they carried on anyway. Kevin went to the mike and waited.
'Geno, Geno, Geno.'
'Oh no,' I thought. We'd had Geno, it was enough.
But this time Kevin just said, 'Ssshhh' and waited. He put his hands up to the mike. His hands were open but the fingers closed tightly together, pointing upwards, shielding the microphone.
'Ssshhh,' 'Ssshhh.'
Eventually, silence...... and the brass started, low, mournful but again powerful,
'You gave me your ace card, I gave you my time....'
It was sheer, fucking brilliance. When he got to the chorus,
'If there is someone, point out that someone, who thinks like I see, who thinks just like me.'
I was thinking, maybe shouting out loud, of course there was someone, it was me! Me! I'm here! My eyes welled up with tears.

Then they were gone. People were calling out for an encore.
'Geno, Geno, Geno.'
'Oh for fuck sake! That's not going to get them back on stage.'

They had to come back on. It couldn't be all over. Then the French girl said that she had to go home. Oh no, I'd forgotten all about her. She had to get up early the next day. I had to go with her. The band might come back on. I couldn't say no. This was Liverpool. At night. It took a few minutes to find a taxi for her. Yes, it was OK I had enough money for a taxi home. Liar. I rushed back to the club but people were coming out. They'd played an encore, 2 songs and I'd missed it. I didn't want to know the details. I suddenly realised that I was freezing cold, soaked with sweat and had a 10 mile walk ahead of me. As I was walking home I couldn't work out what I'd seen. I hardly noticed the walk. Haven't got a clue what time I got home. I thought about the concert all the way. For days after I kept remembering bits, flashes of images like photographs. It sounds stupid, doesn't it? But it's true. Some of those images I still remember today. That night is still imprinted on my brain. I was hooked. I'm still hooked but the quality of everything that has come from the Dexys' stable is enormous. So far so good, eh?

Love to all who feel just like me.


[August 2001]