|Deacon Blue, Carling Academy, Glasgow
The Times 28th March 2003
THE queue to get into Glasgow’s newest music venue was split into two on opening night; VIPS to the right, fans to the left. The fans got in a lot quicker and that just about set the tone for the evening which was definitely one for the converted.
Deacon Blue’s decision to split up at the height of their success nearly ten years ago was probably the canniest thing they ever did. Leave ’em wanting more is an old showbiz adage; they did, and when they came back a couple of years ago, their fan base, now older and more prosperous, was delighted to have back the soundtrack of their youth.
So it was a canny choice by the London based organisation behind the growing chain of Carling Academy concert venues to invite Ricky Ross and his band to handsel their latest acquisition. A £3m refurbishment of the old New Bedford cinema has given the city another 2,000 seat music venue, somewhat to the alarm of traditional stalwarts like the Barrowlands. It probably won’t look quite as nice as it does at the moment for very long, restored as it is to something approaching its art deco heyday and tricked out in fresh pink and blue paint. But for now it does remind you that some of the others could do with a facelift.
Those other venues are not the only ones concerned about the newcomer. A posse of morose-looking residents from nearby flats were hanging around outside, worried about the amount of noise that might leak out. But there are probably many more delighted that at last there is another major venue for the city’s south side (the Tramway is about a mile further down the road). It was a detail not lost on Ross.“Not the city centre, not the West End, but south of the river” he quipped,“where you move to when you get old!” The returning roar of recognition rather suggested that quite a lot of the crowd had done just that while Deacon Blue had been off the road.
But then if Ross knows anything, he knows how to work a Glasgow crowd. With the band’s signature backdrop of Oscar Marzaroli photographs behind him, and with plenty of references to local politics, (Tommy Sheridan was referred to as the King of Glasgow and there was a warm welcome to the “new Glaswegians”, referring to the asylum seekers billeted on the city), he was, as the 1999 comeback album put it, “Walking Back Home.”
And the thing is, you can sneer if you like, but when all is said and done, he writes some pretty good songs and his band knows how to play them. Robert Dawson Scott