They say that the test of a great song is when it still sounds as good when stripped right back to its acoustic roots. If that’s the case then Justin Currie is a bit of a genius.
His gig at the De La Warr Pavilion on Saturday evening, the second of his current UK tour, was a masterclass in songwriting and delivery.
I feel I must declare a potential hint of bias here as I am a big fan of Justin Currie’s previous band, Del Amitri. It may be very unfashionable to say so, but I feel they were a criminally underrated band, who deserved far more success than they achieved.
But at least I was among friends during this gig, as the audience, although not huge in number, were all obvious converts to the cause and seemed to know all the songs played during the evening.
In some ways the size of the crowd may well have made the gig that bit better, as it felt more like an intimate club gig. This was certainly helped by the stage craft of Justin Currie, whose amiable personality throughout helped create that intimate atmosphere.
The close to 90 minute show was split between those old Del Amitri ‘classics’ and tracks from Justin Currie’s subsequent three solo albums. Naturally, it was those Del Amitri songs that received the best reaction, but due to the fact that every word of every song could be heard clearly and because of Currie’s great voice and vocal range, all songs were warmly appreciated.
Sometimes, the stripping down of a song can bring out extra qualities and dimensions that you may not have noticed before, including the lyrics and this was evident on many of the Del Amitri songs played, even for a fan like myself.
Although most songs were performed solo, either on acoustic guitar, or electric piano, Justin Currie was occasionally joined on stage by a musician friend, who helped to fill out the sound playing electric guitar and even a bit of slide guitar too.
Another friendly aspect of this gig were the song requests shouted from the audience. Some, as expected, were already within the set, but others were attempted from memory, some more successfully than others. ‘Be My Downfall’ was brought to a premature end due to forgotten lyrics, but in many ways this and other mistakes and false starts added to that overall intimate feel of the gig.
One other requested song, which wasn’t on the intended set list, ‘If I Ever Loved You’, clearly showcased the songwriting talent of Justin Currie, which was evident throughout the evening. (If you ever wanted to see the power that a song can have, I suggest you watch this video of Justin Currie performing that very song, exactly as he did at this gig, on an acoustic guitar. Watch right to the end and see the reaction: http://youtu.be/Y9xS1WkJdKk)
Before finishing his main set, Justin Currie spoke in a very refreshing and realistic way about the impending and inevitable encore. As he said, we all know it’s going to happen so “I’m going to go off after this song, you clap for a bit and then I’ll come back again”.
He was true to his word and finished a very enjoyable evening with a rousing version of ‘No, Surrender’ from his first solo album ‘What Is Love For’.
It can’t be easy to hold the full attention of an audience when you only have your own songs and a guitar to rely on, but Justin Currie did that and much more in Bexhill on Saturday evening.
I bet you wish you’d been there now?
For a blog post about this gig in Bexhill and his stay in Hastings, written by Justin Currie himself, follow this link: http://justincurrie.com/bexhill-on-sea-november-8th-2014/