Reviews: Tony Christie – Vicar Street, Dublin
He croons more credibly than most, his phrasing is impeccable and his occasional dance routines impinge minimally on his big band sound. Tony Christie is engaged in the kind of reincarnation that invigorated the flagging careers of everyone from Joe Dolan to Rod Stewart and Tom Jones.
With his latest CD, Made In Sheffield, he’s tossed all his (musical) cards in the air, and they’ve landed in a surprisingly orderly pattern. Only instead of throwing up a revisionist Is This the Way to Amarillo, they’ve conjured a bizarre assembly of songs from Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys, Human League and (producer) Richard Hawley.
Christie’s voice is well-equipped to transform these disparate songs into velveteen ballads. It’s a crisp, clear instrument which he plays with some authority, even if at times it lacks the emotional investment required to do justice to these tales of heartbreak and lifelong romance.
With the backing of Hawley’s band, a quartet in thrall to Christie’s old-school, big-band sound, he revelled in a wash of synths and a Parisian-flavoured piano accordion for the opener, How Can I Entertain. It was a nervy start, a curtain-raiser for his tour, but as he eased his way through Jarvis Cocker’s Born to Cry and his own ode to marital bliss, All I Ever Care About is You, Christie revealed a hand with more than its share of aces. Later, his reworked Louise, from Human League, was a reminder of just how scintillating a new interpretation can be, especially when the interpreter has the phrasing to match the song’s lyrical breadth.
Despite the raft of new material though, Christie’s refusal to pander to the incessant calls for his older songs until much later in his set (when he delivered a pristine I Did What I Did for Maria) alienated his partying punters so badly that they refused him an encore. SIOBHÁN LONG