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Wednesday 15 September 2021

A View From The Back Of The Room: Del Amitri (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Del Amitri, St David's Hall, 13 September 2021

Ah I hear those cries now. "Del Amitri aren't heavy! They're a pop band" Well you're wrong, live they are as heavy as any hard rock act, with a lot more diversity in the music and lyrics that would make doom bands loose hope. Plus I was attending this gig with one of my best and most trusted friends (henceforth referred to as M'colleague in true Fry & Laurie style) so essentially this review is for him but you can read it if you want. 

Now we managed to miss The Byford Family (not Biff & Son), the new band featuring ex-Temperance Movement man Phil Campbell on vocals, this was due to travel along with the allure of food and German beer, but we managed to head into the venue with 10 minutes to spare before the main event. Taking our seats in a pretty packed St Davids Hall, a far cry from the Manics gig, I'd seen there a few weeks earlier, we masked up and awaited the arrival of one of Glasgow's most lauded bands. 

At this juncture I must say it's a bloody ballsy move to play a show where you don't perform your biggest hit. But on the inaugural show of Del Amitri's 2021 tour they managed to enthral the entire St David's Hall audience without the need to perform Nothing Ever Happens.

What we did get instead was nearly 2 hours of back catalogue classics such as Spit In The Rain, Move Away Jimmy Blue, Kiss This Thing Goodbye, Stone Cold Sober and Roll To Me along with tracks from their latest album Fatal Mistakes such as the bouncy Can't Go Back, the heavy Musicians And Beer and the beautiful duo of Mockingbird Copy Me Now and Lonely. Justin Currie in fine voice, delivering the bands often bittersweet lyrics against the more often than more upbeat rock backing.

What you do notice when seeing the band live is that with the re-addition of Kris Dollismore to the band the songs take a heavier style his stinging Telecaster used on conjunction with founder member Ian Harvie's Les Paul and various acoustics. In fact the three guitarists (Harvie, Dollismore and Currie) switch instruments all three playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass at any one point. As they do this, all three also uniting for wonderful vocal harmonies, Andy Alston lays down the keys, organs, melodica and accordion depending on the nature of the songs, it gives the folky ballads depth and the rockers a more rounded sound.

Behind the drum kit wasn't Ash Soan the bands album drummer, but whatever the name (answers on a postcard please) he carried the pace of the songs even when they couldn't remember what song was next due to Justin, Ian and Kris not having setlists in front of them! Because of this, and of course this being the first date on an extensive tour there were one or two mishaps but no one really noticed, or cared for that matter most enjoying the brilliant music and performances, the crowd singing along not only to the classics but the new songs too.

With a tight, well conceived set that ebbed and flowed, there was was some usual self depreciation from Justin and Andy had a go at some Welsh. After the main set ended the encore was made up of four songs, the final one being the emotional atom bomb that is Be My Downfall, bringing many in the audience including M'colleague to tears. After this nothing else was needed. Del Amitri are an effortlessly cool band whose music often carries a message, since their reformation they have been welcomed back by countless fans and live the really deliver. As the tour roles on the jitters will subside so by the time they hit London at the end of October in preparation for two shows at the Barrowlands in Glasgow near Xmas they will be back to being a well oiled machine. 9/10    

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