Wet Wet Wet
MARTI Pellow and pals might need a bigger van.
After all, if the between song banter was to be believed, then the Wets might find their numbers increasing from a four-piece by several hundred.
"Inverness, you’re in the band!" Pellow declared after pausing to hear the Inverness Leisure audience’s take on Wishing Well.
Right enough, as they might agree, the crowd were in good voice, even if there was a distinct lack of tenor and baritone voices in the mix, let alone basses, and a glance at the lips of this largely female audience at any time during the set showed that they were pretty familiar with the Wet Wet Wet songbook, and not just the greatest hits.
Of course, it was not so much of genuine offer, quick as some of those fans might have been to accept, as part of the Pellow charm offensive.
The cheeky grin is still in place and Pellow can still get away with a bit of flirting with the crowd.
"Sexy beast?" he queried after one adoring heckle. "I loved that film."
Almost 30 years on from their first album, this was the Clydebank band’s first visit to Inverness and if Nessie did not take up Pellow’s offer of a place on the guest list, it was a monster sized show complete with laser lighting and a CinemaScope scale screen as the backdrop to the band, one which rather bizarrely flashed up images of Nigel Farage, Angela Merkel and other political figures at one point.
Pellow’s easy chat, including a lengthy spontaneous digression about listening to an eight-track stereo bought from the Barras, helped bring the Wets’s stadium sized show down to a more intimate scale.
If there were a couple of musical nods to two of pop music’s most notorious grumps in John Martyn and Van Morrison, there was nothing stand-offish about the Wets.
Some of the anecdotes, such as Pellow’s meeting with music hero Roy Orbison, did not really go anywhere, but they provided a nice interlude between the smooth soft rock ballads that are the staple of Wet Wet Wet’s back catalogue, played with all the unflashy professionalism of a band who have been doing this, and doing it well, for a long time.
The four core members of Wet Wet Wet – Pellow, guitarist Graeme Clark, drummer Tommy Cunningham and keyboard player Neil Mitchell – were backed up by a tight group of players with sax maestro Leo Green, an energetic human juke box, coming close to matching Pellow’s charisma if not sex appeal with his brief spell in the spotlight.
A stripped back acoustic interlude, including a bonus Van Morrison cover to mark the tour’s end, provided a nice change of pace for the show.
But the energy levels soon picked up as the horn section returned for a funk filled finale kicking off with their 1992 song Lip Service, although the band did manage to slide in a couple of cheeky borrowings from the themes from Shaft and, keeping up the ’70s ’tec vibe, Starsky and Hutch.
But there was one song no Wet Wet West show could be without and Pellow set up the multi-million selling Love Is All Around by gently beginning to sing it unaccompanied, allowing the audience to sing along before the band took up the tune for a suitably rousing finish to an entertaining night.