This year’s Edinburgh Castle Concerts season went out not with a bang nor a whimper but with a pretty pedestrian display from the much loved but rarely spotted Glasgow favourites Del Amitri, whose reunion over the last five years seems, on this evidence at least, like a rather ambivalent affair.
Del Amitri, Edinburgh Castle **
Despite a setlist which appeared to mean business, frontloaded with the hits Nothing Ever Happens and Kiss This Thing Goodbye, there was a perfunctory air to proceedings with more a sense of efficiency than occasion emanating from the stage. Down on the esplanade, sections of the audience were determined to make their own fun, regardless of a lack of interaction from the band.
One suspects that relationship will change next weekend when they play the more intense, intimate environment of the Barrowland ballroom, although there was no reason why their breezy, rootsy tunes couldn’t have made more impact on another pleasant evening below the ramparts. There was mild encouragement for the future in the shape of a new song. You Can’t Go Back. As frontman Justin Currie noted with typical wry self-deprecation, this would have been the opportune moment to go to the bar...if there was a bar. But this was a strictly no-booze gathering, with suitably polite applause for a passable tune.
Much of the set was similarly low-key and undemanding, yet Currie’s voice was superb throughout, soulful, true and affecting on It Might As Well Be You. Its shrug of a title is typical Del Amitri but it remains one of the more inspired examples of their signature mix of resignation and the blues, also represented in this set by the hangdog Spit in the Rain and the effortlessly melodic favourite Always the Last to Know, a desperately sad lyric swathed in Andy Alston’s comforting organ.
Most of the crowd were on their feet in seconds for this last tune, but the momentum was not sustained through the latter stages of the concert, and it was even in danger of becoming overly plodding on the likes of Being Somebody Else. The evening was rounded off with album tracks and singles from their three most successful albums, Waking Hours, Twisted and Change Everything – but at times during this concert, those sounds felt like a distant echo rather than a happy reacquaintance.