Review by David Waterfield, photos by Mark Lloyd
Opening for Deacon Blue were unassuming Dundee four piece The Hazey Janes. Their sound is part indie rock, part power pop with a few folk style harmonies thrown in for good measure. They have previously supported the likes of Elbow and Snow Patrol and their warmly received set at Symphony Hall will have done them no harm at all.
Some bands are a national treasure and Deacon Blue is such a band. It is music that touches the heart, lifts the spirit and feeds the soul. Tonight’s concert was less like a gig and more like a reunion with old friends that you haven’t seen for far too long.
Although they retain certain key songs Deacon Blue’s set list changes from night to night so you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. The inclusion of ‘He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now’ and ‘The Day That Jackie Jumped The Jail’ (a personal favourite!) were a surprise and delight but the honours here must go to a dramatic reading of ‘The Wildness’ during which Ricky Ross quietened the band to murmur and his own voice stilled to an impassioned whisper.
‘Your Swaying Arms’ – appearing just four songs in -was achingly beautiful and took me back to a time, a place and a person. The song broke my heart but sometimes you want and need music to do that. ‘Your Town’ was its usual gritty, haunting, brooding self and got even more people up on their feet, but when the band followed with ‘Real Gone Kid’ Birmingham Symphony Hall exploded into life, the audience found their voice and the whole place was up and bouncing! It was quite a sight.
On stage Ricky Ross is the band’s chief communicator and raconteur. His natural warmth and humour made Birmingham Symphony Hall seem like an intimate venue. To his left stood Lorraine McIntosh, whose pure, emotive voice provided a perfect counterpoint to Ross’s passionate vocals.
An extended ‘Chocolate Girl’, a rousing version of ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’ and the Birmingham crowd singing along en masse during ‘Loaded’ were other highlights among many.
The encore began with the band’s new single and seasonal offering ‘You’ll Know It’s Christmas’ (complete with dodgy looking inflatable reindeer!) The uplifting ‘Dignity’ – a song so many people have clutched to their hearts over the years – was followed by a soulful ‘When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) and a celebratory ‘Twist & Shout’ before an acoustic rendition of ‘Wages Day’ brought a fantastic evening to an end much too soon.
Passion, honesty, integrity, hope, faith, work, dignity; all wrapped up in the poetic lyrics of Ricky Ross and delivered by a great band. It doesn’t get much better than this.
1. Circus Lights
2. All Over The World
3. The Rest
4. Your Swaying Arms
5. The Day That Jackie Jumped The Jail
6. Love’s Great Fears
7. The Wildness
8. The Outsiders
9. Your Town
10. Real Gone Kid
12. He Looks Like Spencer Tracy Now
14. Chocolate Girl
15. The Hipsters
17. Fergus Sings The Blues
18. That’s What We Can Do
19. You’ll Know It’s Christmas
21. When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)
22. Twist and Shout
23. Wages Day (acoustic)
See more of Mark’s photos here;