The first of five performances at Le Monde this week, Curtis Stigers’ debut at the George Street venue had just about everything you might associate with the 46-year-old American songwriter: sophisticated songs, self-deprecating humour, and, at two hours and 25 minutes running time, value for money as well.
Easy on the ear as well as the eye (yes, ladies, we know), the blue-green-eyed-boy from Boise is what you might call a jazz musician for those who don’t necessarily like jazz too much. Somewhat homogenised, he croons, plays some mellow sax on occasion and employs a guitarist (James Scholfield) who certainly knows his flat ninths from his flat irons. But that’s largely where the strict jazz stops.
Dressed in a casual suit and red sneakers, Stigers has a slightly manic, slightly nervy aura about him. His hair is short and greying – a far cry from his long-haired, chestnut-brown pop-star days – and he does this odd, compelling dance on his tip-toes whenever he blows his sax’s nose.
Keeping his guitar in tune was an all-too-often distraction (a bit like his constant mentioning that he has a new album for sale), although his quips about Edinburgh Zoo’s pandas, the Scots’ penchant for booze and embarrassing his playing partner certainly kept the mood buoyant.
With plenty tunes on offer, the brunt of them came from someone else’s pen. The Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper blues of Oh How It Rained set the tone, the earthy charm of Bob Dylan’s Things Have Changed sounding decidedly chipper. The pleasant soul-pop chime of David Poe’s Everyone Loves Lovers was perhaps a bit too happy-happy to be taken seriously as a love song. However, a track Stigers co-wrote with Carole King (“a boy from Idaho hooks up with a Jewish girl from Brooklyn to write a song about New Orleans”) proved he doesn’t always have to sing from someone else’s hymn sheet. That said, Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding ensured the largest roar of appreciation was saved for last.
Starting at 9pm and running until 11.40pm, if you plan on checking Stigers out this week, you might want to check the bus times home first.
Run ends Friday