Review By Woody, photos by Mark Lloyd
American duo The O’s are tonight’s opening band and they play a sort of acoustic American folk style which is very popular in certain circles at the moment – dare I say upper class circles thanks to the rise in popularity of bands like Mumford and Sons. Song wise I found them tedious and boring and couldn’t wait for their set to be over, the half empty main hall seemed to appreciate them though and reactions were very loud and appreciative.
I can’t fault the pair as musicians who are multi-tasking multi-instrumentalists who both sing, play acoustic guitar and banjo as well as having foot pedals to tambourines and bass drums. It’s fair to say most people were bewildered and impressed by the Banjo player’s magic fingers. For me though music is always about the songs, do they get me rocking, do they stir me, do they inspire me, so no matter how good a musician you are if your songs don’t connect with me then I’m not going to get excited by them. Rather than try to pick faults with the duo I’m just going to say I didn’t enjoy their set and in the immortal words of my intellectual idol Forrest Gump ‘And that’s all I have to say about that’.
By the time Scottish pop rockers Del Amitri hit the stage the Civic had filled up dramatically, it’s been over a decade since the band last toured so there is quite a buzz with the hardcore fans around me. This tour has been advertised as the ‘A-Z of Us’ which indicates a set of greatest hits gathered from the bands entire back catalogue and that is exactly what we got along with a few surprises to give the real diehards a big smile!
One thing that always made Del Amitri stand out in the pop rock market of the late eighties and nineties was that slight folk edge and something quintessential Scottish about them, a little like the Proclaimers but far more subtle. I have never seen these guys live before and as the high energy opening duo of ‘Always The Last To Know’ and ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ two of the bands most well known songs delight the crowd I noticed those folk edges were less apparent. In fact over the course of the night the songs came across with a more slick commercial melodic sound. This isn’t a criticism, if anything it made the show more pleasurable as the big smooth sound enveloped the Hall. That’s one thing I loved tonight that betwixt the sound man and the awesome sound system at the Civic the band had been given a huge smooth sound with a great deep bass backing. It’s a sound I always crave when seeing melodic rock bands lush, slick and above all else smooth!
Although the set list was a deep all encompassing choice of songs I did find that the momentum of the show dipped at times, when perhaps too many slower songs or lesser known songs were played back to back. This didn’t have a major effect on my enjoyment of the show though, I thought the band were tight and solid and almost flawless. Lead Singer Justin Currie has a tone to his voice I really like and I thought he put in a strong performance which was really pleasing as a huge fan of his voice. It was great to hear some of my favourite songs amongst the set ‘Be My Downfall’ and the melodic glory and sing along beauty ‘Stone Cold Sober’.
I always find how fans of different genres of music react at shows, I’m used to very boisterous crowds who sing and bounce along all night – anyone who has ever witnessed Magnum playing ‘Vigilante’ when the ‘slightly older’ crowd Pogo like mad with walking frames and walking sticks held aloft can attest to. Fan reaction isn’t about health or age, but it always shocks me that this isn’t the standard regardless of what music pumps your juices. Don’t get me wrong in between songs the fans made massive roars and you knew Del Amitri were punching all their fans buttons good and hard. I just find it strange when a crowd is so immobile when the songs are played with very little singing along, although as the pop got flowing towards the end of the set people got a bit of a sway on and I did spot a couple with the bloke singing every word of a song into his missus ear with gay abandon. At least I think it was his missus or that could have been a very uncomfortable song for that woman!
Amongst the set list was, ‘The Ones That You Love Lead You Nowhere’, ‘Just Like A Man’, ‘What I Think She Sees’, ‘Not Where It’s At’, ‘Unlucky For Some’, ‘Food For Songs’, ‘Tell Her This’, ‘In The Frame’, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, ‘Roll To Me’, ‘Driving With The Brakes On’, ‘Hammering Heart’, ‘Spit In The Rain’, ‘Being Somebody Else’, ‘Drunk In A Band’, ‘In The Meantime’, ‘Here and Now’, ‘Just Before You Leave’ and set closer ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’.
They may have been AWOL for some time but it’s great to see a band with such a rich history of classic tunes back out here and playing. It never felt like nostalgia although I know it was, let’s hope they get back in the studio and come back to the music scene again! Great live act, value for money with a two hour set, go see em and tell em we sent ya!
See more of Mark’s photos here;