|Ricky Wants A Less Arctic
Aberdeen Evening Express 24th December 2004
|Keeping Ricky Ross happy is quite simple
really ... just stick him in front of a crowd of fans singing
along to his songs.
Keeping him warm, though, can be another matter - which is why the
man behind Deacon Blue is hoping for a mild evening when the band
headline at Aberdeen's New Year bash.
Because he spent last December 31 performing in the teeth of near
Arctic conditions at Stirling Castle ... the same conditions that
swept away events in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
"Almost everything else in Scotland was cancelled that night
because of the weather," said Ricky from the warmth of his
Glasgow recording studio.
"We were half-hoping we might be cancelled too, it was so
grim when we went on. It was really mad ... it was just snow and
really, really cold."
Despite that rather chilly experience Ricky and the rest of the
band are looking forward to seeing in the bells at the Castlegate.
In part, it's down to the warmth of the reception they always get
from Aberdeen crowds.
After all, just two days before that freezing Stirling gig, Deacon
Blue had played to an ecstatic audience at the Music Hall.
The audience lapped up classic hits like Real Gone Kid, the
anthemic Dignity and, of course, Queen of the New Year.
"That was a really good night, we all enjoyed that,"
"So we are really looking forward to this Hogmanay. I think
the trick will be to have lots of thermals and keep the set
upbeat," he laughed.
Ricky described last year's Music Hall gig as a "Christmassy
kind of show".
"I think the Hogmanay one will be different as it is
outdoors. Indoors we can do a fairly expansive sort of thing.
"We're in Glasgow the night before and we'll be playing
everything we released as a single. So a lot of singles will be
involved in the show in Aberdeen."
And there are so many singles to choose from.
After all, Deacon Blue have been an indispensable part of the
Scottish and UK music industry ever since the astonishingly good
Raintown brought them to public attention in 1987.
During the late 80s and early 90s, the band just couldn't put a
Wages Day, Chocolate Girl, Love and Regret ... Everyone in the
land, it seems, has at least one favourite Deacon Blue song.
And everyone is willing to tell Ricky when they meet him.
"It's nice if your songs have an impact on people's
lives," he said.
"It's good if people feel that's been a positive thing for
"It's a great thing to have familiarity with your stuff, if
you go out and people know a lot of your stuff.
"It kind of makes your life a lot easier a lot of the time if
you are doing a show," he said, with another chuckle.
But there's no getting away from the fact that Ricky still gets a
buzz from watching a hall, a theatre or a street bounce with
people, waving their arms and singing along.
"I think it's the connection between the songs and the
audience. These songs obviously mean a lot to them."
Which is immensely gratifying for Ricky, whose life-long love has
been to write songs.
A successful solo artist in his own right - a new album is due out
next year - he also writes with and for others.
Right now he's working with Ronan Keating on the Irish star's next
But he's also keen to promote new talent.
"A guy I've been working with this year is a guy who will be
big next year," said Ricky, confidently.
"He's a young guy called J'Nay, who is a good R &B act
and who won the Mobo award for best unsigned artist last
While he enjoys writing pop songs for others, he has a definite
gear change for music he writes for himself.
"I just want to make really good songs that connect to
people. It doesn't have to be a very 'up' record ... not that it's
gloomy in any sense.
"But the songs have to be important, meaningful stories that
I can relate to. If I can relate to them, then perhaps other
people can too."
So what does he draw on for inspiration.
"These days, getting older ... slowing down a bit," he
"But you don't want to be making the same kind of records you
did when you were younger.
"A lot of people make good records as they get older, maybe
more mature records. They have a different quality to them and I
think that's good."
But for the meantime, the band are looking forward to getting back
together for their Aberdeen and Glasgow gigs.
Ricky will be joined on stage again by his wife Lorraine McIntosh,
now starring in River City, and drummer Dougie Vipond, now a BBC
Scotland sports presenter.
But there will be a poignant note to the concerts. Earlier this
year, the band's guitarist Graeme Kelling lost his fight with
"That was a terrible time and it's still a very hard
time," said Ricky. "If you lose someone who is a
contemporary, it feels such a severe loss.
"He is missed. There are some songs that we can never get
quite right since he went. I think it's still pretty raw there,
especially at this time of year."
After Hogmanay the band faces a busy year.
There might be more touring and there is talk of creating a new
DVD and possibly new material for it. But Deacon Blue will never
again be a full-time venture for those involved.
"None of us want to be in a band together. It would drive us
mad," said Ricky.
"It's not quite a hobby, but it's not far off. Doing the odd
wee thing, a wee run of shows or whatever, that's really
And that includes breaking out the thermals and keeping Union
Street bouncing this Hogmanay. Scott Begbie