Review: Curtis Stigers, Dirty Martini, Edinburgh
Curtis Stigers, Dirty Martini, Edinburgh, Monday December 3rd *****
The four months which have passed since Curtis Stigers last walked off the stage at the Dirty Martini evaporated in a nanosecond on Monday night when he didn’t so much start a new residency in the opulent, and intimate venue – as pick up where he left off in the summer, greeting the packed audience like old pals, and engaging in the same sort of cosy, often confessorial, banter that had marked his July appearances and helped make them so enjoyable.
Stigers clearly thrives in this “Up Close and Personal” type of gig, accompanied by just guitarist James Scholfield. Not only is there the engagement with an adoring audience which hangs on his every word from an unusually close vantage point, but there’s an informality and looseness to the show, which allows Stigers’s dry sense of humour to flourish – and inspired him on Monday to play well beyond last bus time.
Anyone who heard Stigers in the summer knows that his repertoire spans his old pop hits, more recent singer-songwriter material, original songs and standards from the Great American Songbook. Only at a Stigers gig would you hear the sublime and rarely sung Rodgers and Hart ballad You Are Too Beautiful followed by the US biker drama Sons of Anarchy’s hard rock theme tune, on which Scholfield unleashed his inner Jimi Hendrix to memorable effect.
And the variety doesn’t end there: with his vocals, two saxes and acoustic guitar, plus Scholfield’s electric guitar, there is a rich palette of sounds for Stigers to work with. Consistent throughout, however, were his energy; his gutsy, emotionally honest and utterly mesmerising singing and the rapport between two like-minded, top-notch musicians. If you don’t catch them this week, it surely can’t be long until they’re back …
First published in The Scotsman on Wednesday, December 5th