Review: Deacon Blue, St David's Hall, Cardiff
Wales Online - 13th September 2013


Kirstie McCrum was among the fans wowed by Scottish rockers Deacon Blue at St David's Hall, Cardiff


The benefit of being a music institution is that the groundwork for a successful concert’s already been done for you thanks to years of hard graft.

Playing in pub backrooms, the following builds and builds until stadiums of swooning aficionados hang on your every word.

Since their formation in 1985, Deacon Blue have been engendering fanaticism, and the crowd at St David’s Hall was rapt with attention.

The rosy pink glow of the stage lights as Ricky Ross and his crew took to the stage matched the tint of the gathered masses’ specs, as the five-piece gently sauntered through a set which pulled together as many newer tracks as it did the radio friendly unit-shifters that have seen the Glasgow band’s album sales top six million worldwide.

But in spite of the hefty back catalogue which had drawn fans from far and wide, opener Laura From Memory was off The Hipsters, the band’s 2012 studio album, their first for 11 years.

As a jumping-off point, it was a pretty clear signifier from Ricky and the band. We were being told that we’d have to wait for the hits.

And so it was – the terribly sedate Bound To Love followed and the seated crowd in St David’s cavernous hall were gently lulled by its soporific nature.

Perhaps in response, Ross, smart in a black jacket and skinny black jeans with chunky boots, gave an invigorating between-song sermon about the beauty of the hall, the love of the crowd and the importance of music.

In a display reminiscent of an evangelical preacher, he implored us to become “a cathedral of voices” and instantly there was more vim and vigour.

It was still a few more numbers before clapping fans took to their feet for the band’s 1988’s chart hit Real Gone Kid, but after that, the roof was definitely raised, and Dignity, Fergus Sings The Blues and Twist and Shout followed to a resounding clamour from around the hall.

Now 55 years old, Ross spoke disarmingly about his lack of knowledge when he started out in the early 1980s. Although he cut a striking figure onstage in Cardiff, he was keen to point out that, in their youth, the band didn't have a clue what 'cool' meant.

A storyteller extraordinaire, his patter covered Cardiff City – praise for Scottish manager Malky Mackay, and a jibe about the team's 'lovely blue shirts... oops' – and their home city, Glasgow, and his love of a good tale was reflected through the songs.

But for the enthusiastic rock guitar, many of them could have been folk standards, displaying an attention to language that marks both Deacon Blue's lyrics and Ross' own solo material out as quite special.

An encore which brought a local fan to the stage to play accompanying guitar to Wages Day was a self-indulgent touch, but by then, the crowd couldn’t hide it if they wanted to – after all these years, Deacon Blue still had them smitten. Kirstie McCrum