Deacon Blue :
The List 9th December 2014
Deacon Blue perform tracks from albums A New House, Raintown and Fellow
Hoodlums with soulful intensity
A Monday night in December at the heart of Glasgow's corporate culture and media enclave wouldn't normally set the pulses racing, but Deacon Blue manage to make this cavernous conference centre feel intimate during their adopted hometown gig. The band take the stage all clad in black to frothing applause, which amps up incrementally over the course of the show. Opening with 'Bethlehem Begins' drummer, Dougie Vipond, hares out of the traps with a galloping rhythm as Ricky Ross coos poetically tender lines like: 'Just how far can we go without working out the ending'.
Ross is a compelling frontman; svelte. Cheekbones you could hang clothes on. One foot constantly rutting the floor like a charging bull. His voice has lost none of its soulful intensity over the 20-odd years since the bands debut album, Raintown. Nor has Lorraine Macintosh, who's vocal ivies around her husband's', circling and hiccuping embellishments on 'Twist and Shout' — the latent Cajun flavour of their 1991 single giving way artfully to the 4-to-the-floor rockabilly stomp of 'Queen of the New Year'.
There's a generally held belief that when a band have achieved a certain amount of success that the last thing the audience wants to hear are the fated lines, ‘this is from our new album’, but tracks from this year’s critically acclaimed A New House slot in seamlessly here. The title track is classic DB, with subtle hi-hat heavy verses that open out into skyscraping chorus' with Springsteen-esque pounding piano and Ross' soaring vocals that scan oddly like stones skimming against the surface of the melody. While a brooding version of 'Town to be Blamed' shows a more anguished side to the band, as guitarist Gregor Philip plays a nasty, truncated solo over skulking drums.
But it's tracks from Fellow Hoodlums and Raintown that bring the crowd to their feet. Like the dream-narrative of 'The Day That Jackie Jumped the Jail' with its impressionistic tour of 'princes street gardens', 'passed the meat wagons' and 'the smell of cabbages'. While 'Real Gone Kid' ratchets things up another notch. It's such an unlikely anthem, with its cumulation of vocal riffs and tics that culminate in the weird chorus line of 'I'll do what I should have did'.
Encores include the dislocated soul of 'Chocolate Girl', an audience-led version of 'Dignity' ('a Glasgow song if ever there was one') and a surprisingly post-punky reading of Springsteen's 'Working on the Highway', which wouldn't have sounded out of place at a Devo concert. Some expectations upheld, some over turned, which is all good cos I had nothing but high expectations in the first place. Alex Neilson