Wembley Arena London
Melody Maker 29th September 1990

WHAT exactly is so offensive about Deacon Blue? Could it be Ricky Ross' mindless Bruce Springsteen impersonations, or Lorraine Mackintosh's gimpy dancing? Tonight, their squeaky clean machine is in danger of falling off the rails. They sound washed out by their two previous shows, and those characteristic whoops are hollow and hoarse. But things start well. Ross tells us, "sometimes I feel just like Dusty springfield," before the wondrous "Chocolate Girl". Here, they get it right. It's a dreamy cocktail of soul and rock, punctuated with punchy brass, laced with a haunting melody. But "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" is so appallingly twee you want to run on stage and flay the lot of them.

Every time there's a quiet moment in a song, the two singers stare dreamily at each other, bringing excited squeals from the mass of accountants and bespectacled bozos that populate the Arena. This is a big part of Deacon Blue's appeal . Rather than singing about boy meets girl, they act it out on stage. "When Will You Make My Telephone Ring?" is a fine example of this public romance. it also highlights their slightly new direction - jazzy with a slice of funk. surprisingly, Ross' breathy, blues voice manages to cope.

After a socialist rant set to music, Deacon Blue move into their "music for BBC dramas" phase. Without even a chorus to hang on to, "Let Your Hearts Be Troubled", written for the new William Mcilvanney play, is mind-numbing tosh. A shock soul version of "Hard Day's Night 'goes some way to redress the balance. Deacon Blue are nice to the point of nausea. On such a big stage they seem totally unreal, and their hapless musicians look disinterested and in need of a stiff drink. After two hours, all they leave you with is an overriding sense of nothingness, like opening a gift wrapped box to find it empty inside. And that's what's so offensive about Deacon Blue. Zane