Music review: Deacon Blue, Hydro, Glasgow

A lot has changed since Deacon Blue last played Glasgow, but Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh remain ageless forces of nature, writes Malcolm Jack

Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue, Hydro, Glasgow ****

“You guys are the most patient audience I’ve ever known,” Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross complimented the crowd near the start of this pandemic-delayed Glasgow homecoming show, originally scheduled for December. “The world has changed,” Ross continued, “Arbroath are coming up to the Premiership. And you’re still here.”

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Much is undoubtedly different since these sophisti-pop multi-million sellers last took to the stage in the city where they formed back in 1985. And yet, much else remains reassuringly the same – including the unique and treasured place Deacon Blue hold in the Scottish cultural pantheon. A place they grip with the same surety and decorum with which Ross’s natty tartan braces held up his drainpipe trews.

There’s no getting around the fact that it’s been a lot of years and a lot of albums – 2021’s Riding on the Tide of Love is their tenth – since Deacon Blue last made music that lodged itself in the charts and the popular consciousness like their 35-years-young debut Raintown did. Golden oldies such as Chocolate Girl and Loaded were undoubtedly met with more raised voices and phone cameras than newer material like City Of Love or A Walk in the Woods. And yet, everything they performed throughout a career-spanning nearly two-and-a-half-hour set was met with tremendous warmth. Hushed piano ballad Weight of the World, dedicated to everyone for whom life just go too much over the last couple of years, was a particular moment.

Ross and his sprightly, tambourine-bashing wife and co-vocalist Lorraine McIntosh remain ageless forces of nature who beamed with visible pride when it came finally unleashing the big guns with Real Gone Kid. “You’ve made some old people very happy,” quipped Ross, braces by now lost, yet dignity somehow still intact.