Review : St Davids Hall, Cardiff
Wales Online 10th December 2014

It was a revitalised Deacon Blue which hit the capital this week, their brand of powerful Celtic rock dazzling an audience more than ready and willing to be swept along.

First up though were Cardiff band Zervas and Pepper, handpicked by Deacon Blue front man Ricky Ross - a champion of new music through his radio work - to provide support for the tour.

And they didn’t disappoint, with an intriguing blend of folksy rock that drew similarities to the West Coast giants of the ‘70s, most notably the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and, even earlier, the great Buffalo Springfield.

Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper’s well-crafted songs, supported by a fine band comprising a tight, solid rhythm section and supplemented by some excellent guitar work, were a breath of fresh air, whilst their song Living In A Small Town was worth the entrance fee alone.

They certainly have the ability and, with the likes of Ross singing their praises, they are more than capable of taking that next step to headlining status.

But from the excellent starter came an even better main course, with Deacon Blue delivering as always - despite beginning quite subdued and hampered by a muddy sound mix.

Things picked up considerably with Queen Of The New Year, however, lifting proceedings and the entire auditorium onto their feet.

The momentum continued with Born In A Storm, leading into the brilliant Raintown, the opening tracks from their 1987 debut album of the same name.

And, with the hall erupting to Real Gone Kid, there was no let up in the pace with the older, more well-known material getting instant approval.

In between songs Ross told of his trials trying to master Welsh cash-point machines, along with his affinity for his Celtic cousins - a feeling that was certainly mutual judging by response he and his band mates were receiving.

Time flew by and the show culminated in a medley of tunes, before the band bowed out with a soaring rendition of Wages Day.

Christmas certainly came early for the Deacon Blue faithful. Tony Woolway