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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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In Music

Justin Currie performs Friday night at Shank Hall.

Justin Currie rolls into town for a show at Shank Hall


There are certain songs that sound like summer. With warmer weather approaching, one of those songs -- Del Amitri's bouncy 1995 hit "Roll to Me" -- will soon blare over ballpark speakers and from car stereos.

The man who wrote that song, Justin Currie, visits Milwaukee for a solo show Friday night at Shank Hall.

In the six years since Del Amitri disbanded, Currie jokes that he spent time watching TV and drinking at pubs, but he also took time to craft a brilliantly bitter collection of breakup songs called "What is Love For."

We caught up with Currie, a friend of OnMilwaukee.com managing editor Bobby Tanzilo, for an e-mail interview this week:

OnMilwaukee.com: You've played in Milwaukee a few times before. Do you have any memories of previous visits?

Justin Currie: Well, we always seemed to hit Milwaukee the day after partying a little too hard in Chicago, which either made for killer shows or slightly jaded ones. The very first time we played on our "fan" tour in '86 (partly organized by a member of your staff it should be pointed out), I remember somebody was shot outside the club we were performing at during our show and we had to wheel the gear around the yellow police tape. We thought this was terribly glamorous, having seen such things previously only in movies.

OMC: Does Milwaukee in particular or the Midwest in general remind you of any place in Europe? Is there a difference in how fans respond at shows in different regions of the U.S. and Europe?

JC: Downtown Milwaukee actually reminded me a little of Glasgow when I first saw it in the '80s; the same decaying post-industrial infrastructure but the outlying residential areas are more reminiscent of Germany perhaps than anywhere in the U.K. Any band will tell you that U.S. audiences are much more (inter)active and vocal during shows than Europeans who tend to reserve any emphatic appreciation for the end of the show. That means that you can really hone your act in the U.S. more than anywhere else in the world, because you are given constant feedback from the crowd.

OMC: What kind of show can people expect at Shank Hall?

JC: A dirge-filled hour fueled by bitterness and envy. With tunes.

OMC: What is the dynamic like as a solo performer as opposed to being in a band, with that "us against them" type of spirit?

JC: It's completely different. A band has to be a united front -- you try not to embarrass one another by stepping into some metaphorical spotlight and really telling it like you see it. You have total license as a solo artiste to make a total arse of yourself without having to feel guilty that you've dragged the rest of your brothers through some mire of pretension or pompousness. Go solo! It's your license to be pompous!

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Talkbacks

ntylla | April 17, 2008 at 9:28 a.m. (report)

Thank you for a great article on my all time favorite singer, Justin Currie. I was/am a superfan of Del Amitri and was lucky enough to see them from their beginnings at Shank ( I missed the earlier years at Odd Rock)and follow them out to California for a few more great shows in 97 or 98 (?). The best ever was I believe 3rd of July at Summerfest. I didn't want to share my best kept secret with the world, but there they were, at their best with me in the front row and THOUSANDS of people as far as I could see behind me. Justin trying to pronounce Leinenkugels and the band video recording the audience as we sang "Start with me". I've never heard better lyrics or raw feelings such as the songs written by Justin and company. I am beyond ecstatic that he will return once again. I be sure to be right in front!

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