Music review: Deacon Blue, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
“When the boybands get on the TV, they sit down too,” said Ricky Ross, during the laid-back first section of Deacon Blue’s latest greatest hits tour as it arrived in Edinburgh. He was hinting that even youngsters allow themselves a moment to relax onstage, but in truth, the boybands are all nostalgia acts now – and few bands do nostalgia like Deacon Blue. Their performances are heartfelt and energetic, their songs lyrically timeless but reminiscent of their moment of release.
Across a relaxed, semi-acoustic 40 minutes, then a full, electric 90-minute set, they packed in all the hits plus songs from recent albums, especially 2020’s City of Love. The first part, with the band seated around a backdrop of standard lamps, and double bass and accordion providing the rhythmic backdrop, proved suitable for Chocolate Girl and a brisk but stripped-back Queen of the New Year.
This section also took in the lesser-known, country-toned 1991 single Cover from the Sky and the duet I Will and I Won’t, each making a feature of Lorraine Mackintosh’s pristine vocal. Both this and her onstage energy contribute much to the live freshness of the band, while her husband Ross’s earnest commitment also has its own kind of youthfulness.
Promising “the best night of our lives” with the second set, he led band and audience through a typically rapturously-received slew of upbeat hits (Wages Day, Real Gone Kid, Dignity, Fergus Sings the Blues), the anticipated tear-jerkers (Raintown, Loaded, When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) in medley with the Delfonics’ Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time) and the lesser-known end of the group’s catalogue.
Weight of the World was sensitively dedicated to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, Peace Will Come tentatively offered up as a prayer for the week’s events, and Warren Zevon’s set-closing Keep Me in Your Heart brought a sense of comradeship in farewell. It was a powerful and precise show, offering everything longtime fans or late newcomers to the band’s sound could have wanted.