Baxter Dury at The Ritz

Part of our Music guide

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Baxter Dury
Image courtesy of The Ritz

Baxter Dury at The Ritz, Manchester, 4 November 2021, from £20.40 - Book now

Musical raconteur Baxter Dury is bringing his unique, character-driven songs to The Ritz on 4 November, supported by freak-pop duo Audiobooks.

Spinning wry stories of life among the well-heeled yet poorly behaved, Baxter Dury has that rare knack for making the ordinary sound extraordinary. Failed Fashionistas, Instagram voyeurs, jilted Romeos, reeking insecurity, the willingly self-deluded, the comically unaware… Dury’s latest album Night Chancers (2020) turns grey into gold, surveying modern life’s underbelly via prowling oddball pop and a gravelly, whisky-bar-at-2am voice that’s in perfect step with the lewd landscapes it paints.

After a volatile early life, which included two years living with an amphetamine dealer known as ‘The Sulphate Strangler’, Dury’s musical career began with a performance at the memorial service for his father, the new wave icon Ian Dury, in 2000. This sparked a series of albums that fused chamber pop with nervy new wave, before 2017’s Prince of Tears incorporated some disco elements. In 2019, Dury teamed up with French house legend Etienne de Crécy and Skinny Girl Diet vocalist Delilah Holliday to release a short album of electro-tinged debauched balladry titled B.E.D, his first album for Heavenly Recordings.

Also released on Heavenly, Night Chancers is up there with Dury’s best work yet. From thrilling affairs that dissolve into sweaty desperation (‘Night Chancers’) to absurd bloggers, fruitlessly clinging to the fag ends of the fashion set (‘Sleep People’) via soiled real life (‘Slumlord’), the record’s finely drawn vignettes are all based on the corners of world Dury has visited on his rebellious and nomadic path through life.

We can’t wait to hear these tunes performed live, alongside his new single, ‘Baxter (These Are My Friends)’ –  a collaborative effort with Fred Again, a widely admired pop producer who studied under Brian Eno. A hedonistic floor filler, it’s the perfect soundtrack for our collective return to sticky dance floors and unforgettable nights we’ll never remember.

Get down to The Ritz early and you’ll be rewarded. Audiobooks thew everything at their 2018 debut album – a head-spinning blast of freewheeling, freak-pop genius. Its follow-up, Astro Tough promises to ramp things up further, channelling David Wrench and Evangeline Ling’s chaotic energy and inherent weirdness into something bigger, deeper and more powerful.

The duo’s beginning says it all. After meeting briefly at a party, Ling arrived unannounced at Wrench’s studio the following morning, wearing pyjamas. A producer of the likes of David Byrne and Frank Ocean, Wrench was naturally busy, so Ling took it upon herself to explore his vast modular synth collection. Her noodling quickly saw Ling’s attention tuned, and before long they were both in the throes of a wild psychedelic jam. It was the first of many that formed their 2018 album, Now! (in a minute). It was recorded under a strict one-take policy, with outrageous on-the-fly lyrics taking in everything from perverted grandmas to late-night body waxing, delivered under the guise of various hysterical characters.

Audiobooks have taken a different approach with their sophomore record, due for release on 1 October via Heavenly Recordings. “The first album was a photograph of the beginnings of the project, recorded without any overall plan,” Wrench explains. “Astro Tough is more scripted, but a script that still allowed for lots of improvised scenes. There was more intention behind the songs, and a lot more refining”. That much is clear from lead single ‘The Doll’ – an unsettling, pulsating banger that leans towards the darkest corner of the dance floor. Lyrically, it catches Ling at her best, weaving a captivatingly weird narrative about a young girl losing a doll, while charting the stages of grief from loss and denial to acceptance. If the album lives up to the single, it’s going to be something very special indeed.

Baxter Dury at The Ritz, Manchester

4 November 2021 7:00 pm
From £20.40