Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Thomas Dolby’s presentation at The Egg in Albany last weekend seemed more like a memoir than a concert. Following on the heels of many others of the baby-boomer generation, (recently Bill Payne of Little Feet did the same thing at The Linda), Dolby presented his life as a show-and-tell with words and pictures. The mood-setting movie at the beginning of the show was an intimate and interesting take on his history from childhood to rock icon. It centered on where he grew up and now lives in England with a myriad of back-stories involving, among other things, UFOs, an Air Force Base, a nuclear reactor and a lighthouse – yes, the lighthouse that gives the tour its moniker, “The Invisible Lighthouse.”
In tandem with guitarist Blake Leyh – who, for this tour, also doubled as a movie-set foley maven splashing water and walking in a box of stones in front of a mic – Dolby & his co-conspirator created a memorable presentation on the film side of things. He even managed to slip in a song or three for the audience to enjoy from behind the keyboards during the film’s 50-minute run.
“Quite engaging,” as the British would say.
The second part of Dolby’s Albany presentation involved cultural critic and author Mark Dery asking polite, but physically intense questions to Dolby and Leyh – with mic gyrations, animated gestures and facial expressions.
“A little droll,” as the English would say, but interesting to those who were there as to Dolby’s intentions for the film and some of the music score used.
Dolby surpassed the slow Q&A with a rousing four or five-song set in the third part of his performance, including his tour-de-force, “She Blinded Me with Science.” The half-full house rocked and bobbed with the vintage electro-rock beats and Thomas’ vocals. It was spot on, but all too brief!
There was no encore, but overall Thomas Dolby’s presentation was an insight to a creative soul who came out of nowhere, so to speak, to make his kind of cutting-edge pop music (for that time), which enjoyed mass-appeal acceptance and was, oh, so very British.
Mark Dery’s recounting of the evening