Too smart to be looking towards
Ricky Ross & Friends,Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
Glasgow Herald January 1999
AS first ambassadors for the expansion of Celtic Connections beyond Glasgow, with three mini-tours across Scotland, Ricky Ross's show could hardly be bettered: all the contradictions and confusions of that season/festival encapsulated in one evening. It's (chiefly) acoustic, therefore it's authentic? It's Celtic because Dundee is mentioned, but then so are Philadephia and Baden-Baden. Ross is a very nice chap, but why does he appear so disconnected, or does that post-ironic ennui mean something else altogether?
The "friends" are Deacon Blue keyboard player Jim Prime, guitarist (from the first solo album) Mick Slavin, and vocalist and mother of his children Lorraine McIntosh. The material was drawn from across the years, including Deacon Blue favourites Raintown, Dignity, Radio On, and Good Evening Philadephia from aforesaid solo rocker, songs about Dundee natives and St Andrews Uni students (The Further North You Go), and songs inspired by the death of John Smith, the demise of Margaret Thatcher, and a personal crisis of faith. Ross's excursions into Michael Marra territory of Dundonian balladry only remind you he is not Marra, but these are peripheral problems. He worries out loud about feeling old (don't we all, Ricky), but let's hope the world-weariness is just a phase. Ricky Ross a talented artist still in search of a role - thank God he's too smart to be looking towards Holyrood.Keith Bruce