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Deacon Blue make music magic for a packed Caird Hall

Deacon Blue play their home town  to a packed out Caird Hall in Dundee.
Deacon Blue play their home town to a packed out Caird Hall in Dundee.

He may have moved away from Dundee 37 years ago, but Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross is still greeted rapturously whenever he returns.

Having penned more than his fair share of bona fide pop-rock classics, you’d think he had nothing to prove back on his home patch.

But bringing his band to a packed Caird Hall, the singer and his talented cohorts prove great value for anyone’s money.

City Of Love tour – finally

The Glasgow-formed outfit are making up for lost time on their latest tour, which was originally scheduled for March 2020 when their City Of Love album was released.

That gave the band their highest chart position for almost three decades and the sense of a new chapter was certainly in the Dundee air.

The sight of vocal powerhouse Lorraine McIntosh playing acoustic guitar on the suitably sprightly A Walk In The Woods was certainly novel, and indeed welcome.

Referring to the fan-favourite Chocolate Girl and its main protagonist, Ricky declared, “People think it’s romantic, it’s not – he’s an a*******.”

One of the night’s highlights Your Swaying Arms proved a genuinely passionate retort, but Twist And Shout came over as overly quaint.

It felt like a rare weak moment in an otherwise excellent set that grew increasingly entertaining as it wore on.

A huge welcome awaited Deacon Blue in Dundee, following a delay in their tour due to the pandemic.

Gorgeously handled was Born In A Storm, the precursor to a step up a couple of notches via the exhilarating Raintown – with fork lightning exploding on the big screen behind the band.

Ross and McIntosh are understandably the main focus, but the title track from The Blue’s iconic 1987 debut album is just one of many songs built around James Prime’s majestic piano, and his deft skills remain a marvel live.

‘Been dreaming about this…’

Add in the dynamic guitar-playing of Dundee-born Gregor Philp, Dougie Vipond’s self-assured drumming and solid bassist Lewis Gordon, and you’ve got a versatile proposition.

No wonder then that Ricky gushed ahead of Loaded: “I’ve been dreaming about doing this song for about two years.”

Backing his view that more than 30 years on it continues to be a vehicle for a spirit of solidarity, the early DB single drew a lusty singalong from the up-for-it fans.

Lorraine McIntosh in fine form on the Caird Hall stage.

The Tannadice regular went into monologue mode for the wonderfully poetic – not to mention emotional – On Love, the closing track on last year’s LP.

With a beguiling chorus reminiscent of Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble, the impressive epic’s mentions of Hawkhill and the Tay understandably chimed with Ricky’s hometown crowd.

Acoustic ‘campfire’ interlude

Equally interesting was an all-acoustic ‘campfire’ interlude, which saw the six-piece gather for a seated huddle.

With Lorraine back on guitar and Vipond thumping a cajon, this gave In Our Room a fresh organic makeover and possibly pointed to future stripped-back offerings.

By contrast, The Hipsters and The Believers – both title tracks off albums from the past decade – helped ramp the pace up again, with a blistering rendition of the under-rated ’90s alt-rock salvo Your Town another stand-out.

The rousing strains of the much-loved Real Gone Kid brought the entire hall to its feet, before the band were back to their aching, lovelorn best on a medley of When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) and Chi-Lites cover Have You Seen Her?

Those contrasting offerings proved that on top form Deacon Blue are capable of creating magic.

Two other big hits of yesteryear, Dignity and Fergus Sings The Blues, further demonstrated the potency of their vintage material, squarely hitting the mark with the Dundee faithful.

However, perhaps most impressive of all, in a hugely enjoyable show, was Deacon Blue’s freshness and vitality – proving that they continue to go forward, not back.

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