16 February 2013 (gig)
22 February 2013
A year ago on his last solo tour, Justin Currie had the air of a singer songwriter frustrated and tired with his lot. At his Union Chapel show in London, he lacked his well-known spark and finished the set with a song entitled London is Dead; it was reminiscent of Ross’s keyboard playing moment in the TV comedy Friends. It smacked of self-indulgence and even an anger bubbling underneath.
Twelve months later, at Newbury’s Arlington Arts Centre, he is back on form and seemingly in love with what he does. It’s a relief, because the trek to this bizarre rural west Berkshire venue has proved easier said than done, with sat-nav directions landing you in a field at one point. On arrival you find yourself in a school, before discovering other lost souls wondering around a very sedate venue, waiting to see a man they have come to form a very close bond with.
At each venue Currie now plays, the audience has found its level. Del Amitri loyalists, who also find his solo material engaging and wondrous – although some of the crowd admit they only recently discovered his music. Currie should be treasured more than he his, given that he can produce moments of pure poetry like “thought I found myself a frequency beyond her voice, but the memories keep breaking through the noise” (from Button On My Clothes) or “and the steps of this stone church are peppered with confetti hearts, like a million love affairs, waiting to fall apart” from I Won’t Take The Blame.
While neither of these songs feature tonight as it’s an acoustic set, they highlight the genius behind some of his song writing. There are lyrical gems though, such as “you got something to prove with your own little you” from the cutting coming of age Family Man and “put me in your pocket now, put me in your dress, I will remain the one you love best” from the heartbreaking In The Frame. Both songs, from his Del Amitri days, are called for from a rowdy crowd as the evening turns into an all request show.
Other delights follow as the audience jukebox goes into full swing, old b-side Whiskey Remorse is joined by more well known hits Tell Her This, Driving With The Brakes On, Just Like A Man and the exquisite Be My Downfall. Anywhere I’m Away From You and If I Ever Loved You are taken from his solo albums and Currie apologises (or rather says the crowd are lucky to miss out) for not playing more new songs, as the requests keep coming. Of the new songs that do appear, there is enough evidence that Currie’s third solo album Lower Reaches, will be worth investigating.
As the gig draws to a close Currie delights the crowd with his solo opus and socialist rant No, Surrender, as well as performing the song that made Del Amitri’s name, Nothing Ever Happens. There"s another apology, this time for not touring more, as Currie blames "George Gideon Osborne" (the Chancellor), and perhaps that shows the fire is back in his belly. Currie’s too good to fade away. And these fans in Newbury seem unwilling to let him do so.