Music review: Ricky Ross, Perth Theatre
Mixing Deacon Blue hits with tracks from his new solo album, Ricky Ross’s Perth show was an intimate, bittersweet affair, writes David Pollock
Ricky Ross, Perth Theatre ****
“The Scotland game is on telly,” noted Ricky Ross in his introduction. “So you're probably better off here.” Those who missed the action to experience the Deacon Blue singer’s tour in support of his solo album Short Stories Vol.2 might have felt some sense of regret when they left to news of a swashbuckling victory – but then again, Ross’s bittersweet solo show had its own sense of lyrical glory.
Sitting behind a grand piano and occasionally strapping on an acoustic guitar, his selection of songs was chosen to match both the minimal arrangement and the intimate mood. Deacon Blue hits were sparse but perfectly suited, namely the ballads Your Swaying Arms and Love and Regret, the beautifully measured uplift of Raintown and a melancholy, slowed-down take on Wages Day.
In between, Ross read from his recently published memoir Walking Back Home: Deacon Blue and Me, a series of reflections on his own life which worked well converted into spoken short story vignettes. The song Siggi the Bully was paired with a memory of Ross’s first encounter with the school bully and his schoolteacher mother’s antipathy toward the kid; his mum was a key presence throughout the music, with All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go and London Comes Alive both written for her.
A memory of taking underprivileged kids camping in his past life as a Dundee youth worker fed into the Nan Shepherd-inspired The Unpath, and What You Are was preceded by the evening’s other footballing connection. This was probably the most resonant non-musical moment of the evening, as Ross looked back to 1994 and a five-month period which contained his father’s sudden death, Deacon Blue’s final (for the time being) concert and his beloved Dundee United’s Scottish Cup win.
Elsewhere he played his own song She Gets Me Inside, as recorded by Ronan Keating, and closed on a cover of the Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love, which he and his wife Lorraine Mackintosh recently performed at their daughter’s wedding. It was a show full of life, with all the small defeats and victories that entails.