Five days on and the fact that I saw De Rosa play their first gig in four and a half years at Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles IV still seems more than a little surreal.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start. I am not a neutral bystander when it comes to De Rosa. They are one of my all-time favourite bands and Martin Henry is one of my favourite songwriters. The news last year that they were reforming provoked the undeniably excitable headline on this blog of ‘De Rosa, De Rosa, De Rosa!!!’.
So, after all this time, what was their performance like?
Well, the guys all looked a little older (other than Chris who, if anything, seemed younger) whilst Andy has grown six inches and changed his name to Pete.*
Musically it wasn’t the most obvious of sets – I’ve never seen them play when they’ve not done at least two of ‘Cathkin Braes’, ‘A Love Economy’ and ‘Camera’, yet none were included this time round. But otherwise it was generally the sort of mix you might have expected – songs from their two LPs and new tunes.
The noticeable thing about the set is that it all sounded pretty huge too especially set highlight ‘The Sea Cup’. The first tune was new song ‘Spectres’, occasionally spotted at MJH solo performances. Initially it seemed to owe a lot to those solo renditions but when the full band joined in it filled the whole of the Portobello Town Hall.
The other new tunes sounded great too – on first listen not they’re the most obvious of tunes but, if the band’s track record is anything to go by, then that pretty much guarantees a real depth when you get to know them.
Some of the older tunes have also been rearranged, most notably ‘In Code’, whilst they also played the Christmas version of ‘Under The Stairs’.
The performance was rapturously received at the front of the hall but undeniably there were a lot of folk further back who were breaking the Canaverals’ ‘no talking during the bands’ rule. Perhaps that’s a microcosm of the De Rosa experience – those that get it are enthralled – but there seems to be a barrier that stops a lot of folk getting to the same place. That’s very much their loss.
Otherwise it all went pretty much without a hitch. Bumping into James and Neil later on they seemed as much relieved as anything to have got the show out of the way but, to this observer at least, they all seemed to have slipped straight back into the old routine.
Which is great news. The prospect of a new album and further gigs in 2014 is all rather exciting.
De Rosa played:
1, Spectres 2. In Code 3. Stillness 4. Evelyn 5. A Song for the Mute 6. New Lanark 7. Scorr Fank Juniper 8. The Sea Cup 9. Under the Stairs (Christmas Reverie)
Martin is playing a solo set at the annual Gargleblast Christmas bash, this Saturday (21st) at the 13th Note in Glasgow. Also performing are Towers, Kung Fu Jesus and Pan.
More photos from the De Rosa performance here.
* Not really. Mr Bush was on tour and replaced for this show by Pete MacDonald of the State Broadcasters.