London Clapham Grand
NME 20th March 1993

THE THEORY goes that you have to speculate to accumulate. Which goes some way to explain Deacon Blue's massive investment in tonight's gargantuan nightmare Zoo TV-style set, cynically designed to push them, with all the subtlety of a David Batty tackle, from the cred-free rock gig into the Simple Minds-huge arena. Giant TV screens, podiums, wraparound shades, PVC trousers - remind you of anyone? There's more. . . To cynics- who have disbelievingly witnessed Deacon Blue's re-invention into an 18-month out-of-date marketing machine that sings like Michael Hutchence, dresses like U2 and dances like Dawn French pretending to be Bez - the whole exercise is a rock circus of Spinal Tap cliché. But the unfashionable followers (the kind of fans who tell you to stop talking because they can't hear the words) lucky to have a ticket for this secret-ish road-testing gig are miffed. This isn't the Deacon Blue they love; the reliable college rock group with sing-a-long choruses. Where are all the old songs with the girl yelping "wooo wooo?And why are those people at the back laughing so much? .

If this was Wembley Arena then Lorraine McIntosh's overblown amateur dramatic lyrical interpretations (arms out pleading, hand across the brow sighing) may not seem so hysterically cod. In Row Z of Shea Stadium Ricky Ross' rampant tugging at his crimplene shin during 'Cut Lip' may look provocative, and shining a torch at his own face might seem sardonically Bono-esque. But this is the 800-capacity Clapham Grand, which only magnifies such pompous drama as a craven pretence. .If tongues are in cheeks then this is convincing stuff; poetry introductions to songs, post-apocalypse designer piano, and - steady- roadies dressed as miners complete with Davy Lamp helmets to reinforce the 'Peace.& Jobs & Freedom' theme. However, when said "miners" wheel on a gigantic Hollywood starlet mirror midset for Lorraine to touch up her make-up it's difficult to believe that such heights of ridiculousness are attempted purely for the sake of irony. At one point Ross pretends he's just been released from prison and, with lasers beaming bars of light across his torso, he glibly informs us that while he was in "chokie" he found out what his right hand was for. Pretentious wanker! As comedy shows go, this is one of the best, but Deacon Blue will have to curb those rock pig excesses to keep their undemanding fists-in-the-air paymasters coming back for more. Johnny Dee