Music review: Deacon Blue, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Three decades after they first recorded Loaded, Deacon Blue’s song about “power, wealth and lies” felt as relevant this week as it’s ever done, writes David Pollock

Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****

A Prime Minister-shaped shadow loomed over Deacon Blue’s return to Edinburgh, partly down to the Omicron restrictions for England announced at a press conference just beforehand. Maybe some in the hall felt less comfortable about being in such close proximity; for a sold-out show, there were spaces here and there.

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Ricky Ross was also thinking about the day’s events. “We’ve been singing this song for 30 years,” he noted after Loaded. “It’s about power and wealth… and sometimes it's about power, wealth and lies.” Who he was addressing was obvious; the song’s very appropriate lyrics run “you laugh ‘cos you're loaded / and things are different from there.”

Otherwise, the practised lightness of touch built by this most resilient group over 36 years was still present, with a greatest hits rummage through the 1980s and early ‘90s accompanied by music from 2020’s City of Love, released just before the first lockdown.

The title track appeared, alongside the tender, partially-spoken On Love and the wistful Wonderful, illuminated by a fall of smoky confetti and dedicated to the in-attendance children of Ross and his wife and dynamic co-vocalist Lorraine Mackintosh. These songs are strong, and illustrate why City of Love gave the band their highest chart placing since 1993.

Then there was what Ross called the acoustic “campfire section”, which made a feature of that most lyrically precise excavation of the Scottish nation and character, Orphans. Of course, there were also the hits, from Raintown to Wages Day and a hammering main set finale which included Real Gone Kid and Your Town.

Ross had previously lightened the political mood by recognising that “sometimes we've just got to get together and cheer each other up,” and as he assured us we’d come through hard times together before the ever-beloved crescendo of Dignity and Fergus Sings the Blues, the outside world was briefly, blissfully forgotten. The coda of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young couldn’t have been a more appropriate choice.

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