Bam Bam kicks his drum kit into life, Steve's harp cuts over the guitar, and as Tyla staggers on, the Dogs lock into the groove of Everything I Want. Throughout the gig Bam Bam comes in and out of sight through the clouds of smoke around his kit. Arms flailing, head shaking like a muppet on fast forward, he looks more like the cartoon character on the record cover than you thought was possible. He keeps this going all night, the solid backbone, keeping the Dogs upright. In contrast Jo Dog either sways on the spot or wanders around almost in slow motion. Perhaps it's the weight of his brand new bright blue suede shoes.
Through the likes of Errol Flynn and Heartbreak, Tyla gives a more mature, paced performance than the frantic frontman of old. It's not until he leans into the mikestand and almost croons, "How could anyone" ～long, long pause～ "fall for a Drunk Like Me" that he moves up a gear. He hurls his guitar to a sidestage roadie and jumps and dances more than anyone in the audience. Although there is no visual or aural similarity, I couldn't help thinking he had the spirit of Jim Morrison. Tyla, a poet for the nineties!
Steve and Tyla share the vocals for Billy Two Rivers, which is followed by what for me is the highlight of the show. A hush descends on the Odeon as Tyla bleeds out the first verse of Princess Valium. That voice, soaked in bourbon and nicotine! Melancholic ballads like this are the Dogs at their best, what a brilliant songwriter Tyla is.
The pace picks up a little as the set comes to a close with Medicine Man and Girl Behind The Glass. But Tyla has eased off again. Perhaps he's knackered. This is the last gig of another tour. The Dogs seem to have been touring constantly in the last twenty four months, stopping only for a couple of weeks to knock out another album. They have done more work in the past twelve months than most bands do in three years.
The rock n' roll circus returns for an encore, Tyla ringmaster and clown, Bam the acrobat, and Steve and Jo willing stooges. The obligatory bottle of Jack Tyla clutches to his heart is almost the fifth member of the band. A new song, On The Rocks, is included in the encores, and they leave after I Don't Want You To Go.
The crowd certainly didn't want them to go, but go they did, shortly after 10 o'clodk.
The Dogs are a great band with some truly great songs that deserve to pass straight into contemporary folklore. On a good night they could stand proud on stage next to anyone you care to name, but tonight they weren't firing on all cylinders. Don't get me wrong. I love this band and along with the rest of Hammersmith Odeon had a good time tonight, but the band were perhaps just a little jaded, and not burning as bright as I know they can and will.