Dominion Theatre, London
Melody Maker 5th November 1988

I’LL bet whoever signed Deacon Blue thought they were signing the next Prefab Sprout”. There’s that same feel of studied songwriting about them, a polite reverence for musical roots and, of course, S***biz. The difference is that Deacon Blue are much more abandoned, unselfconscious and generally less anally retentive than the McAloonites. This added self-assurance has the ability to liberate and irritate almost simultaneously: it allows singer Ricky Ross to love his audience and being onstage in an infectious, uncomplicated way, but it stops him from realising when he’s being a dickhead (as when he refers to the Dominion crowd as “London”). Some of the songs are indeed blissful — “Dignity”, of course, and the beatifulily simple “The Very Thing” are two good examples. The problem comes when Ricky Ross tries to convince us he’s just a bluesman at heart, as on some of the slower songs. It’s Show*** again, the gulf between actually believing what you’re singing and going through the motions, he blusters and croaks, but isn't moved.

Lorraine McIntosh is moved, you can tell by the way she flings herself about the stage that she’s lost, she's just hemp there, and its joyous She’s also a prime example of that Eighties phenomenon, the backing singer with a better voice than the frontman. who still gets to do almost nothing. Still. such is the fate of cars and girls. The group have just entered the Top 30. So there's an unmistakeable triumphant air about tonight’s sold out show. This brings me difficulty: I want to cut loose and enter into the spirit just this once but, if I drop my guard and start to. Ross does something unsettling like telling an irrelevant story about Maltesers and early sexual experiences (even fans were calling it stupid). In all probability, the secret to having a good time with Deacon Blue is not to think. The problem I find, as with so much S***biz. is that I have to keep reminding myself not to think, and it shouldn’t be like that. Andrew Smith