A dark and wet night at the tail end of January in 2014. I never expected to be going to see a Del Amitri gig in 2014…
It was almost 12 years since a Del Amitri set had graced a stage, and in that time, things had changed. The band had gone their seperate ways and the fans had grown up, moved out, moved on and matured. Still, in the back of the mind there was always the memory. The memory of what once was, that a Del Amitri set was fire and fury, passion and gusto… could it really ever be that way again?
In all honesty, it was a brave attempt, and a fair replication of what we all used to know and love. If it wasn’t for the fact that Justin didn’t really seem to want to be there, it would have been perfect. The setlist was pretty much all the songs we knew and loved like long lost brothers and sisters, with the odd curveball thrown in just to mess with our minds.
Kiss This Thing Goodbye had never sounded as glorious and alive, and I doubt a maudlin tale such as Nothing Ever Happens has ever been as happily chanted word for word by as many people simultaneously. The irony didn’t appear to be lost on Justin who’s stage chatter was muted, often too self depreciating to be anything other than uncomfortable. “This is every Glasgow taxi driver’s favourite song. I don’t know why” he stated, matter of factly, before launching into a stunted version of Spit In The Rain, almost but not quite hitting the notes they used to with ease.
The show itself, in the enormous and cavernous, but damned impressive Hydro arena, was what you would have wanted from a Del Amitri revival night, bar one thing… the feeling that it was more than a one off. It felt very much like Justin delivering an obligation rather than a new beginning. It felt and looked like a Justin band with Iain Harvie and Andy Alston bolted on for good measure.
The musicianship and the carefully crafted songs and harmonies didn’t suffer, and bar a couple of slow points when the back catalogue and rarities were dipped into a little too self indulgently (Sleep Instead Of Teardrops, What I Think She Sees, In The Frame and In The Meantime) and an encore of a couple of those obscurer tracks meant that things maybe didn’t flow as well as they could have.
The Ones That You Love Lead You Nowhere, Food For Songs, Here And Now, Nothing Ever Happens, and an absolutely house destroying Move Away, Jimmy Blue more than made up for any down time though. I may be overly critical, but I was there first time round. I lived the Del Amitri life. Hearing those songs again, and *that* voice singing them, and Iain’s unmistakable guitar throwing style just lopped 10-15 years off me… and everyone else there.
This was a party. People were hugging, crying, dancing, jiving and in one hipster fuckwit examples, sitting down writing notes about the setlist on a reporter’s notepad while looking bemused as the world danced round him in a furious haze.
I doubt there will be a second tour, a couple of new songs, maybe an album… it would be a shame to waste the energy that was in the room tonight – but Justin has always been his own man and swam against the tide.
As the last familiar chords of Move Away, Jimmy Blue rang out upon the Hydro, a crowd of 20 somethings wondering what had hit them, 30 something’s pretending to be 20 somethings again, and 40 somethings in their 3rd or even 4th childhood dispersed into the night; the glow of the nostalgia fading like the afterglow of the last drag on the cigarette in the queue for the taxi back to monotony and banality. For those 90 minutes? We were alive again. We were back where we remember being young and having the world at our feet.
That is what Del Amitri gave us that night… sadly, it’s also what was cruelly taken away the very same evening.