The Paisley Abbey concert featuring the RSNO in collaboration with, as conductor and arranger John Logan put it, a “mainstream musician” has become a highlight of the town’s annual cultural shindig, the Spree festival. This year’s guest, Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie, is a pop stalwart who has comfortably contributed to folk and jazz ensembles but almost seemed braced for failure as he opened the show with a trepidatious What Is Love For.
Justin Currie & the RSNO ****
Yet its bittersweet tone and his careworn delivery were perfectly complemented by the romance of sighing strings and, job done, Currie exhaled with relief, joking that he was more intimidated by the ecclesiastical environment than the distinguished orchestral accompaniment.
The Abbey acoustic played its part in his song selection. While Del Amitri favourites The Last To Know and Nothing Ever Happens were dutifully rendered to the warm approval of the sell-out crowd, Currie preferred to perform a sumptuous selection of piano and guitar ballads from his solo repertoire, with richly resonant embellishment from Stuart Nisbet on lap and pedal steel guitar.
A couple of new numbers, Cry Babies and I Love The Sea, fit that bill, with the orchestra at full swell on the latter. Elsewhere, they provided a low moody hum of strings underneath the folky melody of Still In Love and their most epic arrangement on closing self-styled “prog” number The Fight To Be Human, with all sections of the orchestra engaged and soaring.