22 APRIL 2013 Union Chapel
After a 25 anniversary tour last year and releasing Deacon Blue's first album in a decade, the bands front-man Ricky Ross has certainly been busy and shows no signs of slowing down. Having just released his sixth solo album Trouble Came Looking he is back on the road with the assistance of Deacon Blue guitarist Gregor Philip.
Ross is an immensely talented songwriter in the vain of Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan. He writes from the heart, telling stories with enchanting melodies and intelligent lyrics. He does not write 'pop' songs, but he has of course had many a hit with Deacon Blue and as a writer for other artists. Like all the best songwriters Ross is also able to capture a snapshot in time. The painfully relevant new songThe Fear is written about the recession and its effects, especially among the working class people in poorer areas of Scotland and England.
The raw folk feel of his new material played out well in the intimate setting of London's Union Chapel. The atmosphere lends itself well to the acoustic set, especially the songs accompanied on the piano. Here I Am In London Town, from Deacon Blue's The Hipsters album, where he tells the story of coming down to London for the first time had particular resonance in this venue. Before starting the song, Ross tells the story of how he was in an empty studio and sitting at a piano came up with the song. The Chapel at this moment was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, it was almost like being back in the studio with him at the songs conception.
Ross engages well with the audience, telling the Untold Stories (as the tour title suggests) behind the songs in a comical and touching way. Boys Break Things - inspired by his son and an accident with a guitar and toy sword, and the Western themed song about the mysterious Pale Rider - inspired by a Cormac McCarthy novel are fine examples of this. As is the encore song In The End which is a moving tribute to Deacon Blue's late guitarist Graeme Kelling.The audience are captivated and hang on his every word, as thrilled by the stories as they are the songs. There's even a sing along to The Germans Are Out Today, replicating the choral sound of the album version. This intimate setting made the evening very special, it was like a private audience with this talented word-smith. Nothing More Than Travelling Now and the moving and funny song Hermless written by the late Scottish songwriter Michael Marra has the audience both laughing and crying at the same time – it could have been penned by Ricky Ross himself.
The new songs throughout the evening are interspersed with acoustic versions of old classics such as Wages Day, Circus Lights and a fantastic reworked version of Real Gone Kid, which ended the set, and had the audience whooping for more, whether they were Deacon Blue fans or just fans of good music. With Decon Blue touring again later in the year, a definite must see. I hope that we get to hear some more untold stories from Ricky.