Gig preview: Justin Currie, Harrogate Royal Hall

Justin Currie.  Photo: Tom Sheehan
Justin Currie. Photo: Tom Sheehan
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‘There’s a lot of death, a smidgeon of serious illness and some concern for the imminence of Armageddon,” remarks singer-songwriter Justin Currie when questioned about the themes running through his latest creative efforts.

“I suppose there’s a love song in there too, but I left it until the end lest folk imagine I am a soft touch.”

“I don’t have themes or at least I don’t employ any deliberately. I’m not thematic, I’m more pathetic.”

Lower Reaches is the Del Amitri frontman’s third solo album to date and follows in the footsteps of his two previous solo LPs, 2010’s The Great War and 2007’s What Is Love For.

Stand out tracks include the bitter sweet Priscilla – but who is she?

“I’ll be hanged if I know. She fitted the scansion,” insists Currie.

“If you imagine the name Matilda in there, it doesn’t work as well, does it? Same number of syllables but it doesn’t cut the mustard.

“And my friend has a lovely little girl called Matilda as well. Shame really, I could have pretended it was about her and got a few brownie points, maybe even have been invited round for dinner.

“But I don’t know ANY Priscillas. If you do, pretend it’s about that one.”

Another musical nugget from the LP is Bend To My Will which has already received airtime on commercial radio.

“Radio rules, radio rocks. Broadcasting is where it’s at,” says Currie. “The communal experience. What would you rather do - watch a film in your own time when everybody else is watching the darts or watch it as it’s screened live on BBC 1 to millions?”

“Obviously, if it’s The Help you’d rather do neither. Personally I’ve always been a fan of being played in garages. That’s where hits begin, amongst the overalls and the wrenches.”

Currie is also preparing to hit the road for a series of live gigs throughout September.

The 12-date schedule includes a stop off at Harrogate Royal Hall on Saturday, September 14.

What can fans expect on the next tour?

“They can expect what they like but I’ll be peddling the same old concoction of unctuous charm and nauseatingly lachrymose balladry,” he says.

“I have a fellow minstrel alongside me this tour. We look a little like Thunderbird puppets but more wobbly and with older heads.”

He last hit the road back in February for a series of live dates – including a gig at the Leeds City Varieties – with audience requests being the order of the day.

“I’m always happy to have folk shouting, although “Fire! Fire!” gets boring after the first few folk get crushed in the panic. I’m not fond of a silent room unless I’m trying to think, which is generally a situation to be avoided.

“I do requests but usually they are for songs I’m already going to play and indeed, sometimes already have played. People go to the toilet and miss their favourite, you see. Which is unfortunate. Sometimes I request that the rest of the audience goes to the toilet so I can do the song again for the requester’s ears only. Mostly I just lie.”

And what does the future hold for Justin Currie and his solo career?

“Career! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! As for my future, your guess is as good as mine. A stroke? The Foreign Legion? A residency at Café de Paris?”

“I might win the lottery, though I hear your odds are quite long if you don’t buy lottery tickets. I don’t buy lottery tickets. So that’s an area of my future we can be relatively certain about.

“Whatever happens I’ll be writing songs, mostly about gardening.

“And not winning the lottery.”

Justin Currie plays at Harrogate Royal Hall this Saturday. His album, Lower Reaches, is out now through Endless Shipwreck.

Del Amitri have just announced their first tour in over a decade which includes a gig at the O2 Academy Leeds on Monday, January 27 2014.

Happy Mondays. Picture: Paul Husband

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