While we’re all at sea, both at home and abroad, Curtis Stigers steers a steady course and delivers a little romance to help salve collective doubts. From the opening bars of ‘Come Fly with Me’ through a poignant ‘Don’t Worry ‘bout Me’ to ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, the first half cocoons us from what’s going on beyond the theatre. The Ryan Quigley Big Band are top-tier, with their timing as sharp as possible. They deliver a cracking opening to the second-half and while they’re jovial and relaxed between numbers, the set is full of impressive solos – none more so than Ryan himself, on trumpet, in one of Curtis’s own songs, ‘You’ve Got the Fever’. Simply outstanding.
Curtis has just released One More For The Road, a live album with the Danish Radio Big Band, which features many of the songs from this set. But what makes him so engaging tonight is seamlessly incorporating his own material in such a self-deprecating way, to the delight of those who have followed him since the 90s. When he returns to the Songbook, if you close your eyes, you might actually believe the ghost of Sinatra has entered stage left. Cinephiles may well be surprised just how many of these songs have appeared in movies over the years and might find themselves quietly singing along to more than just one or two.
Any worries that a big band night might not work in HMT are quickly dissolved. Curtis is full of love for both the theatre and Aberdeen alike, and the final word must be about his performance. It is absolutely flawless and his patter with the audience appears genuine; his interaction with the band shows true class. More than anything, what comes across is his genuine need for the audience to have a good night. If The Wee Review is anything to go by, they certainly did.