Del Amitri’s Justin Currie on playing Tae Sup Wi in Fife

Singer songwriter Justin Currie (Pic: Robert Perry)
Singer songwriter Justin Currie (Pic: Robert Perry)

James Yorkston’s book of contacts have brought some fine musicians and bands to his Tae Sup Wi nights in Kirkcaldy.

And the tight network that is the Scottish music scene ensures that he is just one degree of separation from pretty much every singer and writer.

Justin Currie (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Justin Currie (Pic: Michael Gillen)

The paths of James and Justin Currie will only meet for the first time when the Del Amitri frontman headlines this month’s gathering.

Dan Wilson from Withered Hand, one of the Tae Sup Wi’ alumni, was the connection.

“As soon as Dan suggested it, I really wanted to do it,” said Justin. “I love James’ style and this sounds an incredibly interesting event. I love how he puts the line-ups together.”

The nights have brought together many diverse styles and sounds, and created some memorable moments.

Only in Kirkcaldy could you see Sheena Wellington and Aidan Moffat share the same bill, or sit back and listen to Philip Selway from Radiohead or The Vaselines in such an intimate setting.

Last month saw Phill Jupitus, adopted Fifer – he lives up in the north-east these days – bring his wonderful Porky The Poet set to Kirkcaldy, and share a bill with American alt-folk legend Michael Hurley who would have played all night had they not, literally, switched off the lights!

The buzz of Tae Sup allows performers to tailor their material to the event, and share the stage with fellow musicians.

For Justin it’s a chance to enjoy something different.

“I can do a repertoire of songs I haven’t done before – songs from years back. It’s a one-off gig so I can design the set to order. You don’t have to roll out all the hits,’’ he said.

The unique format of Tae Sup is also something that appeals.

“I did a gig at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine once – an amazing place and a huge building which was freezing. The organiser told folk to bring anoraks!

“So I had songs which referenced the sea, and also wrote something for the occasion. I was thinking about writing something for Tae Sup. There’s a lot that rhymes with Fife!”

Whether a song for the Kingdom emerges or not, the set is sure to include a few familiar songs from Currie’s own solo career and the Del Amitri catalogue.

The band he formed in 1989 continues to fill big venues and has just enjoyed a summer topped with a headlining gig at Edinburgh Castle and two nights at the legendary Barrowlands.

The return to the castle also allowed Currie to exorcise the memories of a fraught appearance there in the 1990s.

This time round it was a huge success.

“Back then we played a lot of gigs in really big venues,’’ he recalled. “Sometimes we were on stage early on, so it was still daylight, so there was no point running on and blasting out six rock songs.

“It was a useful experience doing it back then. This time round it was incredible.

“But the smaller the gig, the more nerve wracking – it’s strange, a big
 gig just becomes a sea of faces, but stepping on to a small stage in a small room and you see every single person.”

To play venues such as the castle, which hold up to 8000 people, you also need a fan base to fill the seats.

Del Amitri remain one of the country’s most successful bands. Six albums between 1985 and 2002 delivered some of their most recognisable songs and cemented their reputation, and the reunion tours which have followed in more recent years have demonstrated there’s still a lot of love for the band and its music.

In 2014 they packed the Hydro, and, this summer, were among the castle’s headliners. The nostalgia circuit – which is now home to many of their contemporaries – is not something they need to prop them up.

“We had lots of minor hits rather than a big top five or top ten song. That means we don’t have to play the same ones every night. As long a we do some, people will go home happy.

“We were known as more of an albums band rather than greatest hits, so we can do a full show which picks out B-sides and rarities as well as the songs folk want to hear.

“The biggest nightmare is being on a nostalgia or retro tour and only having two big hits – you do one early, and then one at the end and pad the rest with cover versions!

“That isn’t us. We still tour every now and then and these days there is no promo work or record company demands. It’s just the gig, which is a luxury.

“We get to our hotel, get taken to the venue in a nice van, sound check, have lunch and then do the gig. No stress or pressure at all.

“I never expected to make a living out of this – I just wanted to get a deal and put a record out on an indie label.”

Signed in what he calls the “post Postcard days” when record companies were snapping up every act going on the Glasgow music scene – the band, the singer, and their music continue to chime with fans in 2018.

There’s talk of a new album, and writing new material continues either for the band of a solo performer.
Whether any Tae Sup inspired song about Fife makes that final cut remains to be seen.

Justin Currie is at Tae Sup wi at the Adam Smith Theatre,Kirkcaldy, on Saturday, October 20. Also on the bill are Nell Ní Chróinín and Brigid Mae Power. Ticket details from www.onfife.com