05 February 2014 (gig)
06 February 2014
Paul Carrack is one of the busiest men in the industry right now, having toured with Eric Clapton in the last year, and releasing his second album in 12 months towards the end of 2013. He says that he's noticed the crowds at his shows swelling in recent years, perhaps boosted recently by a BBC documentary about his life and career, and tonight it seems is proof. Basingstoke's Anvil is a regular stop-off for Carrack on his UK tours, and he tells the audience that he's delighted to be back - and judging by the full venue, so are the people of Hampshire (and the surrounding counties).
Before Carrack takes to the stage though, the audience is treated to a collection of songs from support act Robert Vincent, a Liverpool singer with a crystal clear voice and a typically dry scouse wit. Vincent has also been busy, gigging for a year or more on the back of his debut solo album Life In Easy Steps, which included a support slot with Del Amitri's Justin Currie a year ago. His set is simple but impressive, particularly the edgy The Bomb, about the break-up of his last band - and the tender closer Demons.
For Carrack, the night is dominated by his excellent latest album Rain Or Shine, with a mixture of cover versions and new songs performed in a silky smooth soul style. I'm Losing You and (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right stand-out, while his self-penned That's All The Matters To Me and its sentiment about a father letting go of his daughter seems to hit home to many of the audience. From his last album there is a delightful performance of Bruce Springsteen's If I Should Fall Behind, with Carrack admitting he is a late convert to The Boss. He's not alone.
Many of Carrack's older songs are given a soulful reworking, including Eyes Of Blue, Love Will Keep Us Alive and the groovy rendition of Another Cup Of Coffee. The biggest singalongs are saved for Mike & The Mechanics' biggest hit The Living Years, which still sounds superb, more than 20 years after being a number one and Ace's How Long, which gets everyone onto their feet for the first time.
Before that, the night is all very middle-classed reserve, except for two ladies who decide to start dancing in front of the stage. Their lack of rhythm is quite astonishing - and I feel for the people sat behind their out of time moves. There's perhaps a concern they might start moshing or crowd-surfing - but they hold back. It's a relief. Basingstoke would not be ready for that!
All this doesn't distract Carrack from a consummate performance, underlining why he's one of British music's treasures. You can catch him across the UK right through the spring.
Feb 06 Cadogan Hall London
Mar 22 Assembly Rooms, Derby
Mar 23 The Hawth, Crawley
Mar 28 The Concorde Club, Eastleigh
Mar 29 Fairfield, Croydon
Mar 30 Alban Arena, St Albans
Apr 01 Wyvern Theatre, Swindon
Apr 02 St Davids Hall, Cardiff
Apr 04 Palace Theatre, Newark
Apr 05 Corn Exchange, King's Lynn
Apr 06 Orchard Theatre, Dartford
Apr 11 Winding Wheel, Chesterfield
Apr 12 Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Apr 13 Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
Apr 19 Theatre Royal, Norwich
Apr 20 Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes