Melody Maker September 4 1982

The Dive, London
There's the skullduggery that lurks behind a press-prompting premature retirement, and there's the suicidal self-abuse that terminates a good thing. In folding the Television Personalities, Dan Treacy definitely veers towards the latter, but then, through half a decade of off-the-wall music making, Dan's always been his own (only?) worst enemy.

No matter really, the TVP's have always been disconcertingly erratic live. Neurotically unable to settle on a suitable line-up, nervously intent on playing their talents for laughs. Tonight at the Dive, a condemned but homely cellar off the Strand, Dan called it a day in characteristically haphazard fashion, invariably out-of-tune, anachronistically out-of-time, outrageously out-of-his-head!

There's no point in pretending it wasn't a shambles, but between the shy grins and problems with pitch, the crucial TVP essence you've criminally ignored for so long made itself unnervingly, embarrassingly unwelcome. Some see Dan as a Sixties pop plagiarist, pilfering from his heroes for his own whimsical ends. Others treat him as some expert mimic, Mike Yarwooding the vital concerns of youth's last coherent rebellion, but listen close and the paisley shirts hide a terrible hurt, an aching insecurity, a dangerous instability.

Like Neil Young at his most vulnerably naked, Dan's TVPs were (are - he's still recording!!) acidically sharp, incapable of telling a joke about a man falling off a ladder without dwelling on the injuries. There's always a skeleton grinning beneath the skin of Dan's songs and tonight even the robust greatest hit, 'Part Time Punks' festered like he sometimes suffered a great beating at their knuckle-dustered hands.

In his donovan cap, with his maladjusted sociability, Dan wound up with a fragile 'I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives' seguing into an intuitively aggressive rendition of Floyd's 'Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun'.

The bass and drums flailed on in confusion, Dan downed his Strat, and spray-canned a 'Ban the Bomb' sign on the makeshift sheet backdrop. A touching, futile gesture. True satire nearly always breeds from sympathy, true genius often dies unknown.

Steve Sutherland

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