Club Eden, Glasgow
Melody Maker 8th March 1986
Ricky Ross & Deacon Blue
MOMENT one: At the end of “The Undeveloped Heart” Ricky leaps into the audience, whirling like some skinny dervish and ad-libbing bits of “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, finally screaming endlessly “I Want Everything!” The song ends, the manic Ross smile creases, ceases. “Look Ma! I’m on top of the world!” It’s perfect. In Ricky Ross, heroes are on display. In writing the most powerful, the most intelligent and aware lyrics of any Scottish musician, he invokes the shades of Newman, Costello, Scott, Yeats, Dylan Thomas. Springsteen. In performances of glowing good humour yet sometimes terrifying intensity he’s prepared to give it everything — hell, heaven, highwater and himself. Quite simply, he UNDERSTANDS. He KNOWS where rock comes from. He loves it to death.
Moment Two: Arriving late. I’m pressed at the front of the stage. Suddenly, I remember hearing Rick perform for the first time, some nine years ago, when he was all of 16. “I remember buying ‘Born To Run’, unwrapping it . . . I remember the SMELL of that album . Now he’s got a publishing deal, and he’s on the verge of that elusive record contract. Ricky is almost entirely right. His band, however, are entirely wrong. They play competently, cleanly, boringly. In overwhelming contrast to Ricky’s heart- and-soul performance, the arrangements cauterise the songs’ passion into Prefab Sproutish cleverness. The guitar plinks and plonk when it should howl. Huge gaps appear in the sound, filled only by the frontman’s personality. The band, it seems. DON’T understand. Tom Morton