Review: Si Cranstoun at The Cellars, Eastney

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Boris Giltburg. Picture by Sasha Gusov

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It’s official! Si Cranstoun has broken The Cellars attendance record!

At least that’s what he told us halfway through his exuberant set last night and, to be honest, there was absolutely no reason to doubt him.

The Eastney venue was packed to the gunwales for the return of the retro king - had I had a cat about my person, there would have been no room at all in which to swing it.

There was, though, swing in abundance from the talented Mr Cranstoun and his band.

He’s come a long way since his first appearance at The Cellars, not least with the million-pound contract he signed with Warner earlier this year.

That’s led to a new album, new singles and appearances a-plenty on Radio 2 and elsewhere.

But for all the success, he’s still the same old Si - hugely engaging and clearly revelling in maintaining and enhancing the legacy of those musical gods (some sadly too often forgotten) whom he worships.

So as well as homages to the likes of Ray Charles and Jackie Wilson, we had his irrepressible Big Bess in tribute to Louis Jordan and a plethora of nods to Nappy Brown - Don’t Be Angry, Little by Little and Love Locks all delivered with a bounce and rhythm of which the great man would surely have approved.

But Cranstoun is not just a covers man - his own compositions add huge depth to his repertoire and are themselves redolent of the rich heritage into which he taps.

Established favourites including Coupe de Ville, Dynamo, and Rise and Shine (Kelloggs take note: he’s still rightly banging on about it being an perfect sound track for a cornflakes ad!) all got an airing.

And of course there was a fair smattering from the Modern Life album that has inevitably followed the signing of the aforementioned Warner contract.

Among others we enjoyed Caught in Moonlight and the fun-filled Tick Tock, which he proudly announced he had written with the daughter of one of the Tremeloes. Good lord, do this man’s musical links know no bounds?!

Cranstoun’s only regret was that the tight confines of The Cellars meant that unusually he was not staring out at an audience dancing the night away.

Unquestionably, most in the shoulder-to-shoulder throng would have been up and jiving given the chance, but let that not take any shine off the night.

This was honest-to-goodness music, delivered with panache and a twinkle in the eye and appreciated by all who were lucky enough to be there to enjoy it. Thanks Si.