Keeps The Faith
The Scotsman 29th September 2003
Ricky Ross and Richard Holloway, St Georgeís West Church ***
IF Deacon Blue were the so-called flowers of Scottish pop, then lead singer Ricky Ross was the earth they grew out of.
Rarely shattering the silence since the bandís demise, his latest solo gig - a charity benefit for Christian Aid - provided an unexpected, if long-awaited return, and in terms of direction was somewhat of a watershed.
Gone were the over-emotive Jackson Browne-isms of the early 90s, replaced instead by Americana-tinged gospel tunes reminiscent of Bob Dylan during his Christian period.
The idea was to play a mixture of newies and old Deacon Blue covers, while writer Richard Holloway - former Bishop of Edinburgh - quizzed ex-teacher Ricky on the stories behind his songs, his life, death, religion, and Brazilian Casio keyboardists!
From Dignity (about having a dream and keeping it alive) to Pale Rider ( about the death of his father), from The Further North You Go (small town pettiness) to Hippy Girl (realising youíre turning into your parents), by trimming the fat off his songs thereís every chance the ex-Deacon Blue front-man will receive a fuller collection plate from now on.
Occasionally flirting with the piano, Ross gave a performance that built slowly, sweetly ineffectual vocals becoming a gently keening top voice as the night progressed, reassuringly angelic against the sometimes raggedy and quiet acoustic guitar playing. New single, This Is The Life, proved sun-scorched and physically intense, distorted acoustics bringing life to the sober sanctums of the church. Barry Gordon