12 years after splitting up, Del Amitri made a welcome return, reuniting for an extensive tour culminating in this sold out date before an appreciative Hammersmith crowd, albeit one with very few people who will see 40 again.
Initially I ignored them as one of many Scottish pop bands who flooded the charts at the time alongside the likes of Texas and Deacon Blue. However as the nineties wore on and my own tastes in melodic hard rock were swept away by grunge and alternative sounds, their polished songs and bittersweet melodies filled a gap in my own musical portfolio.
Thus was therefore a night to bring back memories of that decade, especially as there was no new product in the set. Indeed the tour was badged as ‘The A-Z of Us’ , mainman Justin Currie joking this was a better title than Greatest F—ing Hits.
The momentous event of a 12 year comeback was not matched by an elaborate stage show, but instead the songs were left to speak for themselves. Justin and hirsute guitarist Iain Harvie looked much the same as in the day, although keyboard player Andy Alston is beginning to resemble Richard Wilson as Victor Meldrew.
Opening with a couple of classics in Always the last to Know and Kiss This Thing Goodbye was a brave move to demonstrate the depth of their hits collection, although I was surprised that the central block remained seated well into the gig. The Stones-y The Ones that You Love Lead Nowhere and Just Like A Man, with some tasty slide guitar, showed that they were always on the rock edge of pop, and other highlights included the Bryds-esque guitar intro and great harmonies of Not Where It’s At.
However there were also a number of choice B sides and even an unmemorable song from their obscure debut album to please the die-hards. About half an hour in the pace was lowered with a primarily acoustic section, including hits such as Be My Downfall, Tell Her This and Nothing Ever Happens with Andy’s accordion playing to the fore.
Familiar songs like Roll To Me were met with delight and Driving With The Brakes On had a stately majesty to it, while Stone Cold Sober and Spit In The Rain got more convincing as they went on.
My own rockier tastes were belatedly satisfied with the trademark psychedelic guitar workout to Being Somebody Else, reminiscent of Neil Young in Crazy Horse mode, and Drunk in a Band from 2002’s flop farewell Can You Do Me Good, Iain and fellow guitarist Kris Dollimore joining Justin on vocals on this garage rock pastiche.
The encores were slightly left field as either side of Here And Now, a near perfect pop single with its slow burning verses and falsetto harmonies on the chorus, they played a couple of lesser known songs, In the Meantime and Just Before You Leave, both with a looser, soulful feel and great solos from Kris who as the set wore on emerged unexpectedly as the more prominent of the two guitarists.
They finished in suitable style with Move Away Jimmy Blue, a trademark anthem of small town emptiness, with support band the O’s, joining in. With Justin’s usual sardonic banter kept to a minimum admirably they crammed 23 songs into an hour and three quarter set.
It was a great night to be reacquainted with some of the best back catalogues in popular music and it will now be fascinating to see if further product emerges.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.
Featured Albums w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 AUTUMN’S CHILD Autumn’s Child (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 THE RAGGED SAINTS Sonic Playground Revisited (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 AMBERLY CHALBERG Hi-Line (indie)
Power Plays w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
THUNDERSTICK Go Sleep With The Enemy (Roulette Records)
BUFFALO SUMMER Everybody’s Out For No.1 (Silver Lining Music)
ANCHOR LANE Dead Run (R7 Records)
MOLLY KARLOFF She Said (indie)
H.E.A.T. Come Clean (Frontiers)
THE KENDALL COLLECTION Staring Back At Me (indie)
VOODOO RAMBLE Midnight Train (indie)
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