16TH SEPTEMBER 2013
“ Those of a nervous disposition leave by the nearest exit, it's gonna get loud” lead singer Ricky Ross warns us on his quest to turn the Royal Albert Hall into rock and rolls hippest place in London. Yes, Deacon Blue are back with a vengeance and play as if their lives depended on it. If their 25 anniversary tour last year proved that they still have a huge following, their current tour is a monster – it's their biggest tour in over a decade, with many dates already sold out. Their 2012 album The Hipsters made it into the top 20 and Ricky Ross and Gregor Philip performed a series of tour dates together following the release of Ricky's solo album. Not bad going for a group which seemed to be in semi retirement for many years. Some plaudits may say the halcyon days ofReal Gone Kid and Dignity are behind them, I'd say they have come back stronger than ever and new songs like Stars and Turn are some of the best stuff Ricky has written.
Tonight the set concentrates on songs from the last 25 years. Laura From Memory eases us into the evening followed by Ragman and The Rest which pick up the pace. Gregor Philps, who took over guitarist duties from the late, great Graeme Kelling appears more at ease as part of the band this time round and relishes the chance to behave like a lead guitarist. Equally Ricky seems to have let go more since I last saw them. He is really into his performance and takes time to interact and impart his humorous anecdotes to the audience who are hanging on his every word. There is more interplay between Ricky, Lorraine and the rest of the band too. In fact it does seem that they are all more self assured of their position this time round and less hesitant, which is great to see.
The Outsiders, and Town To Be Blamed have the audience on their feet, but it's Real Gone Kid midway through the set that has them going wild! After paying homage to London in Here I am In London Town the band sing their paean to their homeland with Fergus Sings The Blues. Whilst some old favourites like Chocolate Girl and Raintown are absent from the set, I'll Never Fall In Love Again is a pleasant surprise. A clear fan favourite that has the crowd cheering at Lorraine's solo. They do a wonderful rendition of this classic Bacharach/ David song.
The extended encore of Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight and Twist and Shoutloses it's way in places as it feels the band are padding out sections, not fully aware of the amount of time they have left. But everybody is having a good time irrespective! The final song is a stripped down guitar based version of Wages Daysimilar to the one Ricky and Gregor played on their tour. They also invite a fan from the audience on stage to play with them and gave him a signed guitar for his efforts, making his night!
The Albert Hall is always a special place to see bands perform given its history. Given their hiatus Deacon Blue must be over the moon to be performing here once again to a full house. However, it's not necessarily the ideal venue to get the best out of their music - too much reverb on the mics and near Spinal Tap volume levels didn't do them enough justice (Ricky was right it did get loud!) Even so, it's good to have them back. The band like to say that they are definitely not hipsters, but it looks as thought Deacon Blue are still pretty trendy from where I'm sitting.