Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Although Paul Carrack clearly enjoys interacting with the audience during his concerts, he does not seem entirely comfortable as a bandleader. Hiding under dark glasses and a hat, he is quick to move from centre stage and take up position concealed behind keyboards where he can concentrate on the serious business of singing.
The golden voice of Paul Carrack backed by an expert band ought to ensure a fine night’s entertainment. However, Carrack’s skills as a songwriter fall far short of his vocal prowess and his lyrics tend towards dull imagery. As a result, no matter how good the vocals, the songs often fail to stir the emotions. Carrack is reserved vocalist- technically perfect but reluctant to take risks compared to, say, Van Morrison who sometimes seems to get so caught up in the ecstasy of the music he sounds to be speaking in tongues.
The unimpressive original songs may account for the large number of cover versions featured in the set list for the These Daystour including some surprising choices. Carrack is pitch-perfect in a daring cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?that closes the concert but the real surprise is dusting off Jackie de Shannon’s When You Walk in the Room. Minimal backing and an acoustic performance transforms the song from a straightforward pop number into a fragile delicate ballad.
The sound for the These Days tour is predominantly funk/soul pushed forward by twin drummers and a blistering saxophone. Yet a subtle degree of variety and a mellow mood develops as the evening progresses. The title number has a Reggae vibe and the run of hits that concludes the show is pure soft rock. Most outstanding is a mid-set collection of songs (including an ecstatic Buddy Holley cover) with Carrack on acoustic guitar backed by stripped down percussion and Jeremy Meek on stand-up bass
Carrack has collaborated extensively with other artists; his work with Squeeze and Mike Rutherford went well beyond that of a session musician and he came close to joining The Eagles. One might argue Carrack has had more hits working with other people than he has enjoyed, as a solo artist. It is legitimate that the set list reflects the results of these collaborations but grouping them together at the conclusion, whilst crowd-pleasing, has the odd effect of celebrating the work of artists other than Carrack.
The These Days tour is an expertly performed, beautifully sung set of songs that does not always engage the emotions due to some mundane lyrics and a measured performance.
Reviewed on 24 March 2019 | Image: Lena Semmelroggen