Review: The Duckworth Lewis Method
Published 30/07/2010 | 05:00
STARTED as an extracurricular lark, Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh's cricket-themed side project, The Duckworth Lewis Method, threatens to eclipse the little and large duo's other musical accomplishments.
Recorded on the fly in the run up to the 2009 Ashes series, their debut album has become a small phenomenon -- so much so that, a year later, they have reunited to perform the LP in its entirety.
At a packed and raucous Olympia, they are determined to put on a spectacle. In sweltering cricket jumper and wide-brimmed hat, Hannon, on a break from the Divine Comedy, looks as if he's fetched up from a cheap parody of 'Brideshead Revisited'. To his side, Walsh, purveyor of Beach Boys pop under the Pugwash moniker, wears a Peter Ustinov straw boater and a grin which suggests that, after years of thankless toiling, he can't believe he's playing to a sell-out house.
They may have tossed it out on the fly, but their self titled album really is something of an instant classic. Combining Hannon's tea-with-the-vicar whimsy and Walsh's vintage songwriting, the record manages to be at once jokey and profound, throwaway and oddly haunting. It's also very clever: whilst a tootling 'Age of Revolution' would slot comfortably on the soundtrack to 'Jeeves and Wooster', its subject matter -- the rise of Asia as a cricketing power -- is entirely contemporary
With only 12 songs, Duckworth and Lewis have to engage in a little padding. So Walsh sings Pugwash hit 'Nice To Be Nice' and Hannon dusts down the old Divine Comedy staple 'National Express'. Better than either is their version of ELO's 'Mr Blue Sky' and a romp through 'Soul Limbo', the theme from 'Test Match Special'. Afterwards, they muck about with bat and balls and play 'Age of Revolution' a second time.
It's all rather anarchic and there are moments when the evening looks set to teeter off the rails. But Duckworth and Lewis are such irascible hosts that the whiff of organised chaos merely adds to the all-pervading giddiness. Well played, chaps.