Deacon Blue : Kilmarnock Grand Hall
The Herald 1st December 2014

ALTHOUGH their musical career spans almost 30 years, Saturday evening saw Deacon Blue's first ever gig in Kilmarnock's Grand Hall, a fine venue to kick off their short winter tour.

Promoting their latest album, A New House, Ricky Ross promised the crowd that the night would be made up of some new songs and some "really old" songs, and his vow received delighted whoops.

The six-piece band provided a two-hour set and after an initial hiatus when Ross tried hard to get the crowd on side ("We're going to do this together, people of Kilmarnock") the band's blend of pop, rock, blues and country-style music hit the spot. Lorraine McIntosh, in lace-sleeved black shorts playsuit, was in feisty form and with Twist and Shout she coaxed the crowd onto their feet with her writhing oo-oos.

Queen of the New Year got the Ayrshire blood pumping before a few ballads and some funky guitar tracks made way for 1989 hit When Will You Make My Telephone Ring.

A cover of Always On My Mind was followed by new album track Our New Land, complete with potential independent Scotland undertones.

A barrage of hits brought the show to a close: Loaded, Rain Time, Real Gone Kid and - after a Twitter troll preamble - Fergus Sings the Blues.

With singalong foot-stomping and heady tambourine, Ross introduced the well-known band before they feigned an exit.

A rousing demand for Dignity was met with a varied encore: Chocolate Girl and the Deacon Blue official anthem (Dignity) being the most memorable.

Although the band will perform in Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium on Monday and Tuesday this week and Edinburgh's Usher Hall later in the month, opening night in Kilmarnock may just have proved to be the show to see. Marianne Gunn