Looking over the sea of wrinkles that was the crowd, it was clear that no one here, save the little boy playing on his parent’s or maybe even grandparent’s iPhone, was under the age of 25. A mass of pale bald scalps filled the room while the odd aroma of old spice mingled with ale, stout, and feet rose from the floorboards. The venue itself, for all of its history hosting world famous artists such as Amy Winehouse, Ben E King, Kym Mazelle, and Edwin Starr, looked completely modern.
The wooden detailing and warm ambience gives the cafe a cosy atmosphere. One thing which was a little strange to me was the first floor restaurant, which housed viewers throughout the night who ate as the performance took place, however the smell of the food could not mask the scent of middle occupants on the floor below. As the support act walked on stage the landing crowd took their places, a large number of them fought over the very few seats at the back of the room, fearing standing on their feet for an hour, while the brave ones filtered to the stage.
Les Johnson and Me opened the night, a Scottish bluegrass singer with a movingly deep soulful voice, unfortunately many of the crowd were unfamiliar with him or his work so the atmosphere suffered somewhat. An hour later the man everyone was there for took the stage. Justin Currie with his backing band The Pallbearers.
Opening with a rocking song from back in the Del Amitri days, ‘Just Like a Man’, an obvious crowd favourite from the reaction, the scintillating guitar tone mixing perfectly with the rough Glaswegian twang in Justin’s voice. A voice that hasn’t aged a day from his first record with Del Amitri back in 1985. From there they quickly rattled off the greatest hits of the Del Amitri days, ‘Be My Downfall’, ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’, ‘Tell Her This’, and ‘Always The Last To Know’ were particularly well received by the crowd, almost all of which sang along, knowing all the words to each and every song.
After warming the crowd up with the classics he moved on to the latest songs from his new album ‘This Is My Kingdom Now’, including the title song, ‘No Surrender, and ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’. His experience shines not only during the performance, but also in-between the songs, as the band left the stage for one of the more intimate songs he quipped “they hate the sad ones”, to a murmur of laughter “but then again, they’re all sad ones”.
Finishing with perhaps his most famous hit from the Del Amitri days, ‘Driving With The Brakes On’ was met with rapturous applause, as the crowd quickly moved moved out to catch the next train back in time for bargain hunt on BBC One.
Words by Jamie Raybould
Edited by George Kennedy