Celtic Connections review: Del Amitri, Glasgow

Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie. Picture: Robert Perry
Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie. Picture: Robert Perry
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EASILY Celtic Connections’ biggest show to date, this reunion gig by one of Glasgow’s all-time favourite bands – their first in a dozen years, kicking off a 12-date UK tour – drew a crowd of well over 8,000 to the city’s spanking new showcase venue.

Del Amitri

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

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Del Amitri took to the stage to a hugely affectionate welcome, and made it feel as though they’d never been away. They’ve billed the tour “The A-Z of Us”, with a set compiled from across their six-album back catalogue and beyond – including, for instance, a reminder of their earliest promise in Hammering Heart, from their self-titled 1983 debut, and the lovely In the Frame, originally a B-side to their biggest US hit, Roll to Me (which also featured). While frontman Justin Currie’s rendition of I’m Not Where It’s At – overtly one of his many thwarted-love songs –once again seemed a sly allusion to the band’s career-long failure to be deemed cool by much of the music press, their chosen material here reaffirmed both the quality and breadth of their output. Particular standouts ranged from the bittersweet folky prettiness of Be My Downfall and Driving With the Brakes On, to the sardonic sneer of Food for Songs and Just Like A Man; the deft psychological complexity of What I Think She Sees to the devastatingly understated bleakness of Nothing Ever Happens, perhaps Scotland’s unlikeliest singalong anthem ever. Currie, who remains undersung as one of our greatest singers and songwriters, was in magnificent voice, while excellent sound quality placed his superbly crafted, often painfully incisive lyrics front and centre where they belonged.