Music review: Deacon Blue

With the stage in darkness and hometown anticipation suitably high, Deacon Blue provided their own live intro tape - an acoustic rendition of that song for the ages, People Get Ready. It was an early sign that this show would not be entirely business as usual, with the band offering up little twists on their best loved material - nothing radical enough to challenge the obvious affections of the audience, just more of a reworking of the atmosphere on certain tracks, embellished by some sonorous vocal interplay between Ricky Ross and an unfettered Lorraine McIntosh and the rumbling drums of Dougie Vipond.

Deacon Blue in concert at The Hydro. Picture; Andrew MacColl

Deacon Blue ****

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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They were playful with their standards, always with a view to entertain, never to alienate. There were wry ad libs from Ross about the band’s early gigs in Glasgow and the changing face of the city he has called home for more than thirty years, and some spoken word extrapolation on Chocolate Girl’s bewildered protagonist Alan, including a tender diversion into The Human League’s Human, a track he imagined to be on the mixtape of his life.

Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue succeed as both party band and lyrical social commentators with a spiritual connection but, as Ross was to discover when handling the room, there is a tricky balance to be struck between teasing fans about their vociferous enthusiasm and then firmly requesting their respect during the more intimate moments of the set. These included reflective newer songs Birds and Orphans, the latter being Ross’s non-anthemic attempt to write a new Scottish anthem. It is St Andrew’s Night after all, and it turns out you can get a Saltire lighting effect for that.

Their trio of comeback albums were given their due but this was also a generous greatest hits package, ranging from the blushing romanticism of Your Swaying Arms via the euphoric testifying of Fergus Sings the Blues to arrive at an epic Raintown and the inevitable Dignity.

This felt like the conventional close of proceedings but, led by the rock’n’roll spirit, the group returned with a somewhat cheesy covers medley. By that point they had earned the right to indulge themselves a bit and when they returned to the stage one last time, their closing campfire rendition of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, with different band members taking a line here and there, hit all the right notes.

Deacon Blue