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Andrew Strong heads to the Astor Theatre this Friday, May 29, to play all your favourites from the much-loved 1991 movie, The Commitments, supported by Randa & The Soul Kingdom and The Healys. SHANE PINNEGAR reports.

To his credit, Andrew Strong isn’t content to carbon copy The Commitments tracks, preferring to put his own shine on the likes of Mr Pitiful, Mustang Sally and Try A Little Tenderness.

“The show I’m doing right now is basically me doing what I did in The Commitments, but I’m doing my own spin on it,” Strong explains in his soft Irish brogue. “It’s more edgier, there’s a lot more guitars. I play guitar a lot in the show. People are kind of seeing another side to me and that was very important, as opposed to people just knowing me as the singer in the movie.

“When I do songs like Mustang Sally and Take Me To The River, they’re very different in terms of what’s on The Commitments’ records. They’re just harder. That was something I was very conscious of wanting to do before I took this whole thing onboard.

“I think people are seeing that other side to me,” he muses. “They’re like, ‘you can listen to The Commitments stuff – it’s cool, but you’ve got to go see him live’. It’s just a totally different ballgame. It’s more engaging. It’s just more full-on. It just makes it interesting for me.”

After the Australian tour is done and dusted, Strong has plans to record a new solo album, and possibly even a documentary of some sort.

“We’ve been kind of recording a lot of video footage over, I’d say probably the last year or two years, here in Australia,” he says. “I don’t really know right now what we’re going to do with it, but it’s there in the can. We just have to kind of go through it and just see what we’ve got going on there, you know?

“Basically as soon as I finish this tour I’m heading back home. I’ve just upgraded my studio and just basically I’m going to hibernate, man, between now and the rest of the year. Just sit down, write some tunes, work with different writers and possibly some different producers and stuff like that.”

That Commitments connection just won’t go away – testament to how loved the movie was by so many. Strong even admits that there has been talk over the years of a sequel.

“Yeah, there’s been talk about it over the years,” he says, dismissively, “but nothing’s ever really come of it, to be honest with you. Look, sometimes things are just better off left the way they are. I think that’s definitely one of those movies which should be. I have never been presented any material or anything that remotely came even close to me, to even consider doing something like that. Not at all.

“Even for me to do the reunion tour (with the original Commitments cast, in 2011), it was a big decision for me because it doesn’t feel very natural this whole thing because we were just all a bunch of kids. When you’re in a band, it’s like being in a marriage for 20 years. Then when you do a reunion, it’s organic, where that wasn’t. That was the big problem I had with it. I thought, ‘well, we were never a band. We just made a movie with a soundtrack and it did well’. But I am happy I did it and it made a lot of people happy.

“That’s one of the main reasons why I’m doing this tour right now – because I met so many people when we got together for those anniversary shows. People were practically crying. I just thought, ‘you know what, man? I’m just going to go out and I’m going to do my own spin on this. I’m going to show my appreciation to all those thousands of people’.”

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