It’s a crowded Wednesday night at the Barfly in Camden, and the Television Personalities’ stage has already been set for them by tonight’s support act, an amiably dunderheaded collection of part-time punks called Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah. Dustin's Bar Mitzvah have already paid tribute to Dan Treacy, the Television Personalities’ singer, songwriter and all-round sometime genius, by including a version of 'Where’s Bill Grundy Now ?' in the middle of their set. Further homage was paid as Dustin's Bar Mitzvah ’s singer snapped his guitar clean off at the neck halfway through the song.

You could say it was the ghost of Dan Treacy at work, if it wasn’t for the fact that Dan Treacy is sitting in his dressing room stage-left, sulking. Or so it seems, anyway. When Pennyblackmusic spoke to Dan earlier in the day, he was in relatively high spirits, even going so far as informing us of how he was keeping the squirrels company in Kensington Gardens. The figure that takes the stage eight hours later is a shadow of the one-time enfant terrible of the indie movement. He seems subdued, somehow, as though he doesn’t really want to be here.

He’s accompanied by Edward (formerly Ed) Ball, the original Television Personalities guitarist, and nowadays sidekick and nurse to Dan Treacy. There’s a full band here tonight, including a drummer, bassist and another vocalist. Curiously, when he appeared at a charity event a few weeks beforehand, Treacy did the show with Ball alone, and that worked much better.

Dan Treacy can’t sing these days. Whether he ever could or not is a matter of conjecture, but either his voice has deteriorated or he’s just not putting the effort in any more. Like Bob Dylan, though, he has his off-nights, and there are other nights when the sheer genius of the songs shines through despite Dan’s best efforts to ensure otherwise. His voice floats around the right note, never quite hitting it, a bit like a drunken indie Mariah Carey. “We love you, Dan,” comes the shout from the crowd. “Yeah, you love me,” he replies, sounding as though he’s not quite convinced.

There is a smattering of songs tonight from previous albums and only a couple from the new LP, 'My Dark Places'. These include the title track, which steals a little of the melody of 'Allouette' and turns it into something altogether, well, darker. There are moments when Treacy’s voice becomes one with the instrumental melody, and it’s at those points that the light shines through, and everything becomes clear. Much of the time, though, it’s hard work trying to figure out what Dan Treacy’s trying to sing, let alone what he’s trying to say.

Throughout the set, it’s Ball who provides the straight guy to Treacy’s antics. He’s the one that the band hangs off these days, and when he’s not (almost literally) propping up his former band-leader, he’s acting as nurse and confidante to whispered asides away from the microphone. At the end, it’s him that decides, after some 34 minutes, that the band have suffered enough, that it’s time to go home.

Before that, though, the crowd – what’s left of them, it’s been dwindling throughout – are baying for more, with the Edward Ball fan club in full force at the front, calling for his solo hits. But it’s down to Dustin’s Bar Mitzvah to provide the fireworks at the end. Doing their second Television Personalities song of the night, they’re called back by Ball to "help out" on 'Part-Time Punks'. The idea is that they’ll do it along with Dan and Ed. In the event, though, it’s left almost entirely to the support act to play through a credible version of the song, while Treacy props up a table at the back of the stage, in hushed conference once more with Ball. After that, it’s really over. It’s a shame – a disappointing end to a gig that promised much more.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Bob Stuart and originally appeared on his www.underexposed.org.uk











Related Links:

http://www.televisionpersonalities.co.uk/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_Personalities


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