Justin Currie – accompanied by his Pallbearers – holds court in Glasgow, with a set including tracks from his beautifully crafted new album ‘This Is My Kingdom Now’ and fresh arrangements of Del Amitri favourites.
Justin Currie’s solo live shows have tended to be pretty intimate affairs. In smaller venues, he has played stripped-back versions of his solo works and Del Amitri favourites on acoustic guitar and keyboard with guitarist Stuart Nisbet his only company on stage. Having seen a few of these shows in the past, tonight promises a refreshing change of pace as Currie is back on a larger stage – in a packed and sweaty ABC – and in front of a full band. The Pallbearers – comprising of old friends and collaborators Nick Clark (bass), Jim McDermott (drums) and Nisbet on guitar – escort Currie on stage tonight to the rapturous response of his hometown audience.
A hush falls as an expectant crowd takes a collective breath and the set begins with Currie out on his own with his acoustic guitar playing ‘My Name Is God, the opening track from new album ‘This Is My Kingdom Now’. With the audience suitably enthralled he is joined on stage by The Pallbearers to launch into the album title track – the new material sounding heavier live with Nisbet’s guitar solos.
The joyous reaction to the return of Del Amitri song ‘I Won’t Take The Blame’, with a distinct americana twang, is to be expected. If this is Currie’s kingdom, the crowd tonight are his loyal subjects, joining in with full voice. ‘Just Like A Man’, ‘Tell Her This’ and ‘This Side Of The Morning’ are also all ecstatically received. However, it’s ‘Always The Last To Know’ that provides the loudest karaoke moment of the set up to that point with Currie playing it stripped-back on acoustic guitar, simply accompanied by this adoring audience trying to hit and hold every note with him.
Despite the Del Amitri back catalogue getting the loudest cheers from the fans assembled, it’s Currie’s solo work that I really enjoy tonight. After slating Strictly Come Dancing for a lack of actual dancing content, Currie gets the ABC doing just that with the breezy pop harmonies of ‘Hey Polly’ and the soaring rock of ‘The Dead Sea’. On ‘Not So Sentimental Now’ Currie’s voice sounds stronger than ever, hitting the skyscraping notes with piercing clarity. The pounding drama of ‘Everyone I Love’ closes with a swirling finale that climaxes with Currie singing on his knees – seemingly relishing being the frontman of a band again.
I can’t help but wonder if the amount of Del Amitri content in the set is crowd-pleasing or Currie-pleasing – only he can answer that. I feel that if it’s the former, he could stand to lose a couple of Del Amitri recollections in favour of giving his solo work more time. There are songs from the new album that are conspicuous by their absence from this set list.
That said, an unhurried and grooving new arrangement of ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ is a treat before the night finishes with the audience dueting with Currie on ‘Be My Downfall’ and ‘Nothing Ever Happens’.
“It’s been magic” Currie exclaims as he thanks the crowd for their input, and I agree. It’s a rare gig that so clearly demonstrates the connection between the person on stage and the people that buy the tickets. Whether you’re a fan of the man, his original band, or simply a curious first-timer in the kingdom of Justin Currie, tonight’s performance was undeniably a masterclass from songwriting royalty.
Photos © Rhiannon Law