Royal Albert Hall London 28.4.94
NME May 14th 1994

FOR THE past eight years, Deacon Blue have occupied approximately the same niche in society as organised religion, the Citizens' Advice Bureau and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They've never been likely to form an integral part of life, but it's nice to know they're always there should you need them.

But no more! At the end of the night, a tired and emotional Ricky Ross thanks everyone he's ever met and announces that this is a farewell tour. The sensation is akin to losing something you never knew you had. Sure, Ricky's announcement seems to have little effect on the crowd, but then this motley collection of gimpoid Civ Eng students and tepid twenty something couples are far too sensible to get upset over something as trivial as their favourite group splitting up.

Deacon Blue deserve better, for lurking somewhere beneath their characteristic balladeering and desperately "authentic" rocksmithery lurks nothing other than a cracking pop group. Sturdy, dependable Ricky (the Blue Peter presenter as rock star) and flighty, windmill-dancing Lorraine act out a semi-hilarious Romeo And Juliet, to a suitably dramatic backdrop of - and this is the rub - the sort of surefire singles for which the charts are currently out. Admittedly, wherever they stray from tonight's chosen hits-strewn path, you can see precisely why they're calling it a day.

The joyous likes of 'Real Gone Kid', 'Dignity' and the undeniably gorgeous 'Chocolatg Girl' have flowed less easily in recent years, while 1993's attempt at U2-style reinvention was little short of mortifying. Even compared to that, however, the finale is a sad nadir, as they choose to follow their own - supremely swinging - 'Twist And Shout' with a dire take on the rock'n'roll chestnut of the same name. The crowd, by now cavorting with all the natural grace and rhythm of fitted wardrobes, lap it up regardless. And then head straight for the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken. Mark Sutherland