SCOTTISH pop troubadours Del Amitri, they of the bittersweet lyrics and effortless melodies, opened a short UK tour at a stiflingly hot City Hall on Friday evening, writes Dave Lawrence.

With a much larger show scheduled at Edinburgh Castle the following night there was a risk of Newcastle’s gig being seen almost as a rehearsal but Justin Currie (vocals, bass), Iain Harvie and Kris Dollimore (guitars), Andy Alston (keyboards) and Ash Soan (drums) blew away such concerns with an assured performance.

The low-key acoustic opening with two of their traditional crowd singalong numbers, ‘Be My Downfall’ and their biggest hit ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, caught the audience by surprise but proved an inspired touch, easing both the band and the audience into the set.

‘Food For Songs’ saw the band plug in, turn up the volume up and raise the energy levels as they delivered a string of hits from their prime – ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’, ‘Just Like A Man’, ‘Not Where It’s At’ and ‘When You Were Young’ that got large sections of the crowd on their feet.

A new song, ‘You Can’t Go Back’, fitted in effortlessly and teased the possibility of future recordings, before the achingly sad ‘Driving With The Brakes On’.

The second half of the set was a delight as the band mixed it up with obscure tracks like ‘The Verb To Do’, album cuts such as ‘Wash Her Away’, and of old favourites that included‘Spit In The Rain’, ‘Always The Last To Know’, ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and the encore, ‘Jimmy Blue’.