Review by David Waterfield
Sometimes it pays dividends to get to a venue early to see the support act: you might just end up discovering a new artist to love. It happened at a Deacon Blue concert a couple of years ago when they were supported by a talented and strikingly beautiful young singer/songwriter named Azadeh and it happened on this occasion with Zervas and Pepper. The Welsh duo of Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper were augmented by a tight four piece band and their brand of harmony heavy West-coast influenced folk rock was right up my street, with ‘One Man Show’ a particular standout. The duo are set to return to Birmingham in April to support the launch of their new album.
From their debut album Raintown to their current release A New House there’s a soul, intelligence and poetry that runs through the music of Deacon Blue. Songs like ‘Chocolate Girl’, ‘Dignity’ and ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’ have endured not simply by riding a wave of eighties/nineties nostalgia but because they are passionate, melodic, articulate pop songs that document real lives and real emotions.
Deacon Blue’s set lists are liable to change from one night to the next, let alone one tour to the next, so you’re never quite sure what to expect or when. After opening with two tracks from their latest album there were surprise early appearances for ‘Wages Day’ and ‘Twist And Shout’. A further three tracks from Fellow Hoodlums that featured on their last tour were dropped and replaced by three new ones, including ‘James Joyce Soles’ and a delightful rendition of ‘Cover from the Sky’ featuring a tender, yearning vocal from Lorraine McIntosh that would melt the hardest of hearts.
‘Your Town’ got the audience in the stalls up on their feet and when the band followed with ‘Real Gone Kid’ they were up and bouncing but for me the highlight of the night was ‘Loaded’; a song that’s still pertinent today, both socially and politically. “Who’d have thought that we’d still be singing this song after all these years” mused Ricky Ross “And it’d be worse…”
A six song encore takes in Tom Waits’ ‘Long Way Home’, a mass crowd sing along during the hopeful, empowering storytelling of ‘Dignity’ before heading off in a festive direction with ‘You’ll Know It’s Christmas’ and a cover of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ which sees the band all draped in silver tinsel garlands before ‘Queen Of The New Year’ brings the evening to a close.
Deacon Blue are a band to be savoured and treasured and a night spent in their company, at an excellent venue – and discovering a new act into the bargain – was a fine way to conclude my gig year for 2014.
1. Bethlehem Begins
3. Wages Day
4. Twist & Shout
5. A Brighter Star Than You Will Shine
6. A New House
7. Laura From Memory
8. Chocolate Girl
9. Sad Loved Girl
10. I Wish I Was A Girl Like You
11. James Joyce Soles
12. Cover From The Sky
13. Your Town
14. Real Gone Kid
15. I Remember Every Single Kiss
17. The Hipsters
18. Fergus Sings The Blues
19. That’s What We Can Do
20. Long Way Home
21. When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)
23. You’ll Know It’s Christmas
24. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
25. Queen Of The New Year