IF that beefy, northern soul-inspired sound which Edwyn Collins has made his hallmark of late is not uplifting enough in its own right, then there is further cause for celebration on this latest tour to promote new album Understated, a collection of almost wall-to-wall thanksgiving for the gift of life.
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Collins, for those who have not followed his remarkable story over the past eight years, is in ongoing recovery from a serious stroke and, without wanting to get too sentimental about it – because, god knows, Collins isn’t – returning to music has been a life-saver.
“I found a reason to carry on,” he sang simply on the effortlessly melodic 31 Years Of Rock’n’Roll, before paying consummate tribute to those 31 years with a set which reached back to Orange Juice’s box-fresh debut Falling and Laughing, through the slinkily funky What Presence to the hungry, urgent garage rock of Understated’s title track and the Motown groove of another new number, Too Bad (That’s Sad).
Although Collins’ speech remains halting and the loss of mobility in his right arm means he can no longer play guitar, his singing voice, sense of humour and intrinsic talent for melody and arrangement are unchanged, even if he did endearingly lose the lyrics at one point.
He was also blessed with the support of a sterling band, including a cameo from his son William, who were on hand to bring his songs to life, providing the gentle acoustic licks, garagey keyboards, demonic fuzz guitar solos and harmonic backing vocals which injected that extra level of personality to the performance.
Collins himself was quite the imp, eventually rising to his feet in the latter stages for joyous renditions of Rip It Up, Blue Boy, Don’t Shilly Shally and A Girl Like You before exiting with a cheeky twirl of his cane.