The Sheffield-born and heavily soul-influenced vocalist Paul Carrack has enjoyed a decades-long career which has brought him into superstardom’s orbit on more than one occasion, but there’s a sense that hearing him perform amidst the relative intimacy of a full Queen’s Hall is to experience his talents in the most appropriate setting.
Paul Carrack | Rating: *** | Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Whether on piano or acoustic or electric guitar, the 64-year-old’s playing is strong and confident, while his vocal is a treat – high and clear, with a certain well-aged, weather-beaten edge.
It can’t have taken much producing to get that voice sounding good on record, even on the glossy anthems for which he was famed. Most well-known as the singer of wildly successful supergroup Mike + the Mechanics, Carrack’s muse has long been associated with the comfortably middle of the road – but that’s what his fans appear to want, and it’s delivered on the live stage with crisp, hard-working professionalism.
There are five players in his band, including two drummers, and the quality and urgency of their sound turns even the vanilla Mike + the Mechanics hits The Living Years and Over My Shoulder into communal experiences.
Many in the audience may have been more enthused by other songs from Carrack’s eclectic repertoire, including his stripped-back for piano but still feisty take on Squeeze’s Tempted and Ace’s huge transatlantic 1975 hit How Long? He also levered in a cheerful cover of the Searchers’ When You Walk in the Room and a bunch of tracks from this month’s seventeenth solo album Soul Shadows, including the Chris Difford co-written Bet Your Life. For long-serving fans, it was a comprehensive experience.