It’s 9.3 miles to the Limelight Belfast – it’s a Friday night, The Dandy Warhols are playing, the sun is shining… and we’re wearing sunglasses. (sic)

It’s funny how the first song you hear by a band, tethers you to them forever, eternity’s undeniable, umbilical c(h)ord…

In this particular instance it was 1998, ‘…The Dandy Warhols Come Down‘, and the track was ‘Boys Better’ – a gorgeous, acid-drenched, Neal Young-esque, hook-laden, up-beat, rendering of underground americana. It hit the spot enough for me to buy the album, and go see them that year at one of my regular haunts back then, The Garage in Glasgow.

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The intervening 18 years, seem to have been relatively kind to all concerned. Trying to get some half decent pics down the front, some youngster enquires whether I am with the band! I guess we have aged rather gracefully…

The Limelight is packed to capacity, not bad for a band still making albums 20-plus years down the road. The Dandy’s get things rolling with ‘Mohammed‘, from their 2000 game changing album, ‘thirteen tales from urban bohemia‘.

Having signed to the then obligatory major label, Capitol Records in 1995, history has shown that the band were always going to be a round peg, in that particular industry square hole, an uncomfortable fit where the label, never fully understood the band’s motivation.

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Fast forward to 2004 and the critically acclaimed, though universally agreed by all concerned, as editorially flawed, documentary ‘DIG!

Every band would give it’s eye-teeth for that level of unflinching, fly on the wall and in the ointment exposure. In hindsight, the film begs the question as to what might have become of The Dandy Warhols, if Vodafone hadn’t picked up, ‘bohemian like you‘ for their tv commercial, at a stroke propelling the band, into the superstar-osphere.

The fact that this year sees the release of their 9th studio album, ‘Distortland‘, to the usual and healthy mix of critical reviews – suggests that the band would have done, just exactly what they have done, kept recording music primarily for themselves, and to hell with the consequences.

Or as Taylor-Taylor recently and succinctly put it, “I always wanted to put a band together so that we could attract the freaks and intellectuals and social rejects, who didn’t fit in and didn’t want to.”

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Tonight’s show is an honest reflection, of what every band who has been playing live, for as long as The Dandy Warhols, should be doing – playing as many songs from their new LP, as they do from the albums with the greatest hits. This is the only way to stay rooted in reality, to avoid the cliché, of becoming your own best tribute band.

Hat’s off to The Dandy’s, quite literally in the case of guitar maestro Peter Holmström, for managing to retain their individual and collective charm. Courtney Taylor-Taylor commands the stage, his vocal prowess, still rich with harmonic dexterity. Zia McCabe as ever the band’s metronomic livewire, a duracell bunny incarnate, if ever there was one. All underpinned by the steadfast, sure-footed and flight of fingered, Brent DeBoer. A warm and convivial evening is had by all.

There are 20 tracks on offer tonight, and my patience is rewarded at the very end, as ‘Pete International Airport’ segues into ‘Boys Better‘, celebrating my odyssey with the band, taking it full circle…

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