• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Baxter Dury at Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow

BySilver Eliot

Oct 25, 2023
Baxter Dury

Baxter Dury wears his complexities on his dapper grey sleeve, and it’s when he lets the cracks show in the cocky persona of his lyrics that he is at his most lovable. He is on tour to promote his eighth album, I Thought I Was Better Than You, which is full of wry depictions of the naughty escapades of the upper middle classes and insights into his chaotic childhood with his chart-topping father Ian Dury. The album has been hailed as “sharply observed” by The Guardian and “self-deprecating yet poignant” by Uncut Magazine.  

Dury, 51, is supported by the captivating OneDa (pronounced ‘wonder’), an endearingly amateurish Mancunian trio whose set is characterised by calls of “Are you ready?”, and a penchant for air horn sound effects. Fronted by Onye Ezeh, OneDa combines spoken word and rap to dance music backing, which her bandmate spins live. Ezeh has incredible stage presence. “Yeah I bring the flow/yeah I bring the vibes/they already know,” she brazenly raps, as another intercuts with “Flow. Vibes. Yeah”. OneDa finishes the set by asking the crowd to shout ‘Pussy Power’ as she takes a selfie with her back to us, and then to “empower the brand [she is] trying to create” by buying some of her ‘Pussy Power’ merch from the stand outside. You couldn’t say they didn’t give it their all. 

Dury swaggers onto stage with an expression of sensational pomposity in his trademark Italian suit. His cream shirt is unbuttoned to show off a stack of silver and gold chains. The crowd goes wild. Opening his set with the existential ‘So Much Money’, Dury addresses the audience as he questions “Who am I? Who am I, mummy?” in his deadpan mockney accent. Singer Madeline Hart’s frequent solos are beautifully pure and she stays true to the records, which serves Dury’s evocative vignettes perfectly: “Taps always dripping/sleeping in the daylight/leaning out of windows/Slumlord’s laughing”. The crowd’s high average age results in a refreshing lack of view-obscuring phone screens, yet the enthusiasm is tangible, with plenty of expressive dancing.  

The state of the sold-out Queen Margaret Union, one of two student venues at the University of Glasgow, is amusingly reminiscent of a school hall. Tiles are missing and taps are broken in the loos; the stairwell floor is a grim grey laminate, and clumsy stage lights obscure the view from the seated balcony. The sound quality errs on the screechy side, especially during OneDa’s set, and even for a brief moment of microphone feedback during Dury’s. The lighting, however, is adeptly used to intensify the mood of each song. “I’m not your fucking friend/Trying to be though,” snarls Dury in the opening lines of ‘I’m Not Your Dog’, as he is backlit by a cold white lighting, which takes on a strangely artificial effect, playing into the tongue-in-cheek vanity of the speaker.  

Dury generously acknowledges the crowd, frequently namechecking Glasgow – he substitutes the lyrics in Aylesbury Boy to sing “And all of Glasgow says yah / and all the pricks from London say yah” – and repeatedly telling the audience how much he loves them, albeit a bit too profanely for some (me included.)

Dury is an undeniably excellent showman, by turns kneeling obnoxiously to drink from his bottle of water, raising the microphone stand above his head in a pose of Herculean victory, and coquettishly taking his jacket off in slo-mo to the screams of the audience. At one point he even dons a light-up mask. There’s a precarious line between histrionic arrogance and winning us over, and Dury manages to achieve the latter. Over the course of the show the self-absorbed character slips and cracks with increasing regularity, until we are only left with a grinning Dury, his expression one of genuine, childlike joy as the band giggle at him and at each other. The crowd of 6Music dads have lost a few years over the course of this infectiously joyous night. 

Image courtesy of Silver Eliot.