DOUGIE Vipond, drummer with Scottish pop band Deacon Blue has many strings to his bow, including that of television and radio presenter, and thrill-seeking sportsman.
He may well be about to add another one, that of Highland tour guide.
For years, the perennial pop band, one of the UK’s most commercially successful bands, stormed the charts with hits including Dignity, Real Gone Kid and Chocolate Girl, but the success which came their way came at a price, as Dougie explained: “When we were at the top of our game, we played big venues, and found it slightly frustrating in many ways because that meant we didn’t get to perform in some of the places in Scotland we really wanted to. “The great thing about going out on tour now is that we are able to put things right and play at places like The Pavilion in Strathpeffer. “Although I haven’t visited the venue, I have been to the village several times, as I have taken part in the annual 24-hour Strathpuffer race.”
The Strathpuffer, a 24-hour mountain bike marathon, said to be the world’s toughest, has a reputation for being gruelling. “When I think of Strathpeffer, I think of cycling, being freezing cold and soaked to the skin, having no sleep – and being in tears,” said Dougie. “That said, it’s a brilliant place and the people are very nice, so I’m looking forward to becoming something of a tour guide for the area and showing it off to the rest of the band.” The band arrived on the music scene at a time when Scottish artists were the champions of quality songwriting, picking up guitars and challenging the likes of Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who packed the charts of the time. Like many artists of quality, success did not come overnight.
A commitment to live performance built a solid fan base, and despite the fact that the first release of Raintown was met with critical rather than commercial success, a re-release following extensive touring meant the album spent 77 weeks on the UK chart. Raintown was the first of five top-five albums, with Dignity the first of 18 top-40 singles. Their 6million album sales were the backbone of Deacon Blue’s lasting success, which is why they remain one of the most popular touring bands around. As a rule of thumb, tickets generally sell out within hours of going on sale.
“I consider myself super lucky to be still playing with Deacon Blue after all these years,” said Dougie. “Being able go on tour with them now that I’m in my 40s is superb.” Dougie promised that the fans who have been lucky enough to get tickets for their gigs in Strathpeffer and Montrose are in for a treat, with old favourites getting a well-deserved airing. “Although the set list changes every night, we always include our big hits, because for a lot of people that’s what the show is about, hearing the songs played live and seeing how we have matured as musicians over the years. “We are very proud of the work we have produced and, while many of the audience are people who have grown up with us, a lot of young people come along, too. “Music is such a disposable, short-lived thing that it is nice to see young people hearing our music for the first time and liking it; it’s a constant source of joy to me.”