Live review: Celtic Connections: Del Amitri, The Os, The Big Dish at The Hydro, 24/1/14

A00_8317With other Scottish bands like Big Country coming back on the scene with replacement singer Mick Peters taking over from the great Stuart Adamson inadvertently tainting the finer moments of the bands career, there is always a delicate feeling of ruthless dread; a feeling of trepidation; that a band come back out of the woodwork with little integrity; unduly replaced with what can come across as shallow desperation (… Currie claims that the band never split, using a more euphemistic ‘’the phone stopped ringing”).

So, based on the technicality that the band had never split, a more apt explanation could be an overly long hiatus?!

Quite evidently, the best part of the crowd that were spilling into The Hydro had grown up with Del Amitri during the peak of their success, and there was an anticipatory – yet; unquestionably unsettling doubt simmering over what was to be expected of tonight’s gig.

This, following the admission that ‘Justin Currie has a predisposition for smaller venues – meddled with the fact they had not performed together in over a decade (12 years) – this was an inevitability; however – the gamble paid off.

Needless to say, Del Amitri own the stage and ooze confidence with a perfect balance of attitude and vigour – displaying all the positive facets of a band that never really went anywhere.

Kicking off the night is the fantastic The Os from Dallas.

The Texan duo, started out in the summer of 2008, having known each other, playing in various groups such as Polyphonic Spree, Young Heart Attack, Slick 57, Rose County Fair et al.

The Dallas duo of Taylor Young (guitar and kick drum) and John Pedigo (banjo) enrapture the crowd with their extensively diversified and seamlessly amalgamated banjoing and folky, country-esque music.

The pop-infused tunes are infectiously catchy and surprisingly – and oxymoronically – at odds with their anthemic musicality; padding the bulk of the venue with their colourful harmonies, deep routed lyrics, and largely unexpected all-enveloping presence.

Needless to say, The Os are a truly pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Up next is The Big Dish – who had reunited for last for year’s Celtic Connections – and they return on a bit of a flat note.

Steven Lindsay’s vocals, presence and self-deprecating demeanor do not do them any favours; low point being the ambiguously despondent discourse in which he drones “…This is a new song that took us 20 years to write, …but it’s probably rubbish…” which not only left the crowd slightly baffled at their intentions, but also augmented that point that The Big Dish, clearly leave a lot to be desired.

It takes a couple of songs until the webs are haphazardly cleared and the WD-40 starts greasing the ‘ole’ cogs to induce some underwhelming precedential movements – including a deeply unsettling reoccurrence of leg-on-monitor guitar soloing endeavors.

Nevertheless, it is not all downhill, as there are a few diamonds among the rust (or is that rough?!).

Their obligatory – and much needed – mid-set, up-tempo pop-rock highlight has a nice – albeit subtle – catchiness to it that would be well suited on Radio 2 drive time.

Additionally, they finish with the greatly ambient ‘Swimmer’, which has jazz/funk sentiments and some nice vocal harmonies, facilitating a far more comfortable dynamism within the band creating a more exogenously projected appearance; helped by the constant influx of patrons entering the arena, just in time for Del Amitri.

As soon as the silhouetted Justin Currie comes running out and jumps up onto the centre monitor followed by Andy Alston, Iain Harvey, Kris Dollimore and Ashley Soan what follows is a stratospheric roar from the 8000 capacity crowd, created by induced prototypicality; extolled from breed of inebriated aisle dwellers – upping the ante to boiling point, sealing the apprehended and categorical anticipation that had been building since the doors opened.

Currie is a natural on stage producing light and casual banter, which makes for great rapport and dynamicity between the band and the fans.

The band kick off with ‘Always The Last To Know’ and proceed into ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’, commanding the stage with unforced conviction.

Essentially, they played through their whole back catalogue playing numerous hits debunking the trivial myth that Del Amitri are merely one-hit-wonders (which could not be further from the truth).

‘Always the Last to Know’, ‘Driving with the Brakes On’, ‘Here and Know’ and ‘Spit In The Rain’ were all standout performances, with categorical determination from the whole band; further augmented by a superb sound, along with backing support from the crowd.

A unruffled acoustic section splits the set down the middle and is a lovely touch – allowing the whole band to step out to the front of the stage for a warmly performed and somewhat inversely microcosmic intimacy emitted jovial chit-chat among the band and a genuine camaraderie on stage and off with the visuals to boot.

The acoustic section culminates in a spectacular performance of ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, in which a fully standing 8000 voices singing along was hair-standing-on-the-back-of-the-neck property.

As mentioned ‘Driving With The Breaks On’ is an absolute highlight of the night belting into beautiful multi-layered choruses – it is a spectacle to behold and truly quite magnificent.

A welcome return after a 12-year break conjoined with an ecstatic and surprisingly eclectic crowd enjoying every minute of it.

Finishing with ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’ the quintet manages to keep all their clothes on (unlike their now infamous performance at the Barrowlands).

There are many fans travelling home undoubtedly hoping that this is a permanent return; hoping that; this time, the phone keeps ringing.

Words: Derek Robertson

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3 Responses to “Live review: Celtic Connections: Del Amitri, The Os, The Big Dish at The Hydro, 24/1/14”

  1. Strange…my foot never went near the monitor Derek.

  2. Dear me…here’s me thinking that my solos were short and understated. Just goes to show how wrong you can play it. I’ll try better next time Derek.

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