Paul Carrack, Ronnie Scott's, London
Thursday 09 April 2009
Superlative talents like Paul Carrack. He replaced Jools Holland in Squeeze twice, has had spells with Roxy Music, Nicks Lowe and Cave, played sessions with The Smiths, and written songs for the Eagles. You'll know his beret, grey beard and shades from his time as singer for Mike Rutherford's Genesis off-shoot Mike + the Mechanics. But it's as a reliable professional hand in better bands' later days that Carrack has become a minor part of British rock's fabric.
Being a decent bloke and honest craftsman appeals to brilliant bands losing their touch, and to the middle-aged fans packing Ronnie Scott's. The venue's slickness and crystal acoustics these days suit Carrack solo. With an impressive band in black suits, he gives painstaking professional value, but you can leave without a hair out of place. Something is missing: the exposed soul you can't learn or find.
Tonight's support, his old Squeeze band-mate Chris Difford, showed a different talent: a shambling man with a cement-mixer voice, blessed with a sublime, confessional pop gift. Carrack's songs, even ones co-written by Difford, or the couple he placed on the last two Eagles albums (a windfall he says meant "a good deal on some new suits") are built on generalities and platitudes. "Love will keep us alive when we're hungry," was a case left untested when sung by the Eagles during their rapaciously greedy reunions.
There are gems by old friends. Nick Lowe's "I Live On A Battlefield" deals in genuinely stirred emotions, and it's a rare pleasure to hear Squeeze's "Tempted" sung by the man on the record. "I said to my reflection, get out of this place," Carrack sings in his light, conversational soul voice, letting a fine, desperate pop song unfold.
"We're thinking of doing a Mike + the Mechanics section," are words to make the blood run cold. But "Another Cup of Coffee" deals in convincing emotional crises in a Daily Mail reader's world. The pomp and circumstance of "Silent Running" drags immaculate saxophonist Steve Beighton into his instrument's crude 1980s hell, and Rutherford's limp response to his father's death, "The Living Years", induces stadium swaying. When his band's brass-blasted jazz-soul playing overrides other songs' limits, deeper pleasure arrives. Carrack, though, stays in the shallow end.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'naked pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'