One of few Scottish bands who popped up during the 80’s & went on to great success, Deacon Blue are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary with a tour. Louder Than War were at the Liverpool leg of it & here’s how it went down.
In 1989 a bloke drove up in a van to the place where I was working and dropped off a list of music cassettes he was selling cheap. The only two I fancied were both from Deacon Blue, their sparkling debut Raintown released two years earlier, and that years When The World Knows Your Name. Both sold for three quid each. Dodgy? Probably, but at that price a steal worth taking a risk on.
The Raintown tape didnât contain a single Deacon Blue song, and itâs excellent follow up wrapped around my car cassette player three weeks later. The bloke in the van was never seen again. Glasgow Karma accepted pal, I deserved what I got, so I can only think itâs been guilt thatâs caused me to take this long to see them live for the first time.
Of course to most Deacon Blue are the coolest band never to be cool. Yet they were also very much part of a rich stream of bands to emerge north of the border in the 80âs that helped light up the British music scene threatened with over exposure from the corporate backed Madonna, MTV and Michael Jackson machinery.
There is no doubt this is all worth reflecting on as Deacon Blue take to the stage as part of their quarter century celebration tour, yet itâs true to say unlike some of their former peers they have always refused to rest on their considerable laurels. This is demonstrated by having the well found confidence to open with three tracks from last monthâs release of The Hipsters, Here I Am In London Town, the title track itself, and Thatâs What We Can Do. All three are greeted with an enthusiasm from the audience that belies the fact they have only been familiar with the album of brand new material for a matter of weeks.
This of course is testament to the ability of frontman Ricky Ross to continue writing melodies that breeze effortlessly into your consciousness accompanied by lyrics that are never less than arresting. The album unfolds itself to sit seamlessly with their back catalogue and in doing so draw favourable comparison. The Outsiders (see below – recorded on this tour), Turn and Stars all appear tonight with that Deacon Blue identity that rarely fails to delight, an identity rubber stamped by the unmistakeable supporting vocals of Lorraine McIntosh.
But the songs that created this twenty five year legacy are of course what ultimately drive the show. Queen Of The New Year, Chocolate Girl, Real Gone Kid, Fergus Sings The Blues, Your Town, When Will You (Make My Phone Ring) are all still performed with an energy and conviction that give yet another clue to the reasons for their longevity.
There is also genuine poignancy here this evening â the band played the city 23 years previously as the horrors of the Hillsborough disaster were only hours into unfolding. The band play tribute to the determination of the city to pursue justice, as they recall what must have been the most difficult of nights of their then fledging career.
The celebratory encore that contains Dignity, a double Twist and Shout (both their own and The Isley Brothers song) and Wages Day is wrapped up beautifully and aptly with Bob Dylanâs Forever Young.
As Deacon Blue send everyone back into the calm night air happy they still possess a legacy that continues to stand the test of time, yet have the knack of being everyoneâs best kept secret.
All words by Paul Ariss. More posts by Paul on Louder Than War can be found here.