Wembley Arena, London
Melody Maker 6th January 1990
Hearing his muffled voice from outside the Arena, as I’m still struggling through the rain, Ricky Ross seems to say “Hello! We’re U2” Well, many a true word’s spoken in jest. Deacon Blue are engaged in a struggle to transfer their smooth melodies and pounding songs to stadium size. And they’re well equipped to do it. He’s spoken before of his love for simplicity; Springsteen songs of few chords and bars. And he’s true to the idea. Deacon Blue songs are never elaborate or complex, will never be accused of housing “too many notes”. Often, a song is one broad sweep, hammered home harder and harder. ‘Which, of course, is why their Celtic chest-pumping anthems can be so rousing. So are they Celtic Soul Rebels for the nineties? Well, if they are, they’re impeccably turned out ones.
Deacon Blue know their etiquette. The best moments tonight are when they get cocky, find the confidence to cut loose and aim at a few raw thrills. They feel so much more real then. Even if they have got the odd sturdy clumper, Deacon Blue are handling being A Very Big Band pretty well. Visually, it’s the Ricky & Lorraine Show. Nobody else matters; they may as well be session men. And it’s an intriguing contrast. She’s a lithe livewire, a real gone kid, tossing her head, arms to the sky, howling for joy. Ricky, by contrast, is awkward, stiff, performing an odd peg-leg mince across the stage, then galloping like a frisky pony with a hard-on. He gets it touchingly wrong.
Yet that’s Deacon Blue also — gaucheness and rawness under a slick facade. “Real Gone Kid” sums it up, Ricky careering round stage with rare abandon, yelling and then, when it all gets too much, lying down and quivering. “Wages Day” is a similar wayward sensual thrill, a tale of one tiny sould intoxicated with the second transferred to the big stage for us all to gawp at. That’s what they do well. They’ve an eye for detail.
Lots of odd things happen. Deacon Blue are more peculiar than you think. For ”Raintown” he sits at his piano and rasps like Tom Waits. He sings of an old Dusty Springfield standard, “Look Of Love”, then says, "she has to sing with the Pet Shop Boys nowadays!” Wembley rings with boos. He grins and says ”Ah’m saying nothing!” We get a daft homily about Scots pride not being about hooligans, Rod or Andy Stewart, and a decent request to give to the ambulance men. All this he yells at fever pitch. Weird.
But this was a triumph, proof positive Deacon Blue can cut it in a major league. They could ditch the odd dirge like “Orphans ‘—“Belfast Child” if ever! slept through it—but they’re no trainee Minds. Not yet. This was too intimate. Deacon Blue have mastered stadiums. From here, it’s only UP. Ian Gittens