Can it really be 25 years since Simply Red’s Stars became one of the best-selling British albums of all time? Apparently so, hence why Mick Hucknall and his merry band of hired hands are currently on tour to mark this momentous anniversary.
Simply Red ***
SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Split into two segments separated by an interval, the show begins with a polite canter through random selections from their catalogue. Highlights include a surprising cover of Neil Young’s Mellow My Mind and a singalong cabaret version of The Air That I Breathe.
He may be thicker of jowl and midriff these days, but Hucknall’s mellifluous voice is still a thing of honey-roasted beauty. Gently prowling the stage like Parsley the lion on Ladies Night, he played the crowd like a violin with his affable rehearsed patter.
Unfortunately, their canon has always been plagued by mid-paced sophisticated soul snoozers and tasteful Reader’s Digest funk riddled with instrumental solos which outstay their welcome.
At their most soporific, it’s impossible to banish the mental image of Hucknall in flowing silk pyjamas sipping expensive coffee in a vast Bahamas beach house, as he stares out to sea while recalling an old love affair with a rueful smile.
However, the Stars segment served as a reminder of why the album became so huge. You can’t argue with slinky earworms such as Something Got Me Started, For Your Babies and that supremely tuneful title track.
This is commercial MOR at its very best, and Hucknall remains one of our finest blue-eyed soul singers.