New House, Old Foundations

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Deacon Blue at Inverness Leisure Centre as part of their A New House tour, 05/12/2014. A Review and photographs.

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“the delivery [Zervas and Pepper] was both melodic and punchy.”
It had been a while since Deacon Blue last played in Inverness if you discount their headline slot at Belladrum in 2011. Previous appearances had been at Eden Court as part of BBC Scotland’s Sounds Of Eden series and shortly after at the Ice Rink. That was back in 1989.

Tonight they had crossed the road from the ice rink to play at the sports centre or as support act Zervas and Pepper described it ‘The ILC Arena’. I like that it has a certain ring to it. Equally I liked Zervas and Pepper.

Zervas and Pepper were a band hand-picked by Ricky Ross to support them on tour. He has been playing them for the last 18 months on his radio show and they were very able openers. Their style is reminiscent of the mid 60s west coast USA sound of the likes of The Mamas and Papas through to their contemporaries such as The Pierces. With a third album in the pipeline their set leaned towards earlier releases ‘Somewhere In The City’ and ‘Lifebringer’.

They were largely appreciated by the early crowd who took in every word, even if the sound on the first half of their opener ‘Buffalo Crow’ was somewhat muddied. With this sorted the delivery was both melodic and punchy. I’m even sure that some at the front would have been dancing barefoot with flowers in their hair. A great opening band which made me forget about the cold outside and knocked me back a few months to the summer. And that was good enough for me.

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So the stage was set for Deacon Blue. Back in 2011 at Belladrum they never really connected the way that Sharleen Spiteri and Texas did that year when they headlined; a band that also played the ‘ILC Arena’ in November of last year. But this wasn’t a festival, it was an opportunity to shine to their own support.

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Ricky Ross was preening, posturing and striking a pose just as he did back in the late 80s

Opening up to rapturous applause they rattled off three songs from their new album ‘A New House’. Although very much in the vein of their earlier releases, unmistakably Deacon Blue, they didn’t catch the audience’s attention as much as later more well known numbers would. And that was how the night would run. The familiarity didn’t just end with the songs.

Ricky Ross was preening, posturing and striking a pose just as he did back in the late 80s and Lorraine McIntosh was a fireball of movement as she energised the set from stage left, again, just as she did back in the day. In fact the whole togetherness of the band was just as it was all those years ago. When they moved from ‘Born In a Storm’ through to ‘Raintown’ the mood lifted. This is what people came to see. With ‘Queen of the New Year’ and ‘Wages Day’ to quickly follow the party was in full flow. Title track from the new album ‘A New House’ punctuated the old time feel but ‘Ragman’ then brought back a few memories.

Ricky Ross turned to keys as the pace dropped with his collaboration with the guys from The Feeling and ‘I Wish I Was A Girl Like You’ and also with ‘When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)’. His introduction for ‘For John Muir’ took us back to the Ricky that could talk at length about a song and really what was his passion.

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With the Dougie Vipond taking the lead on drums ‘Your Town’ came across very tribal and was the lead into the bounce along that was ‘Real Gone Kid’

With the Dougie Vipond taking the lead on drums ‘Your Town’ came across very tribal and was the lead into the bounce along that was ‘Real Gone Kid’. Turning back to the new with the exquisite ‘I Remember Every Single Kiss’ and title track from 2012’s ‘The Hipsters’ there was some respite for the audience but they were reeled back in with ‘Loaded’ and following a typically Ricky Ross lengthy lead in, where he will no doubt get many responses on his twitter feed, in good nature I hope, of wanker, arsehole and fud they launched into ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’ which would have been a fine way to end any set but taking us back to the new it was drawn to a close with ‘That’s What We Can Do’ from The Hipsters album.

The band returned to the stage for an encore to an ecstatic audience. Firstly playing around with ‘Long Way Home’ they then turned their attentions to ‘Chocolate Girl’ and what would have been a fitting end to any night an audience led ‘Dignity’. But they weren’t finished and drew the night to a close with ‘Twist and Shout’.

Deacon Blue are, well, Deacon Blue. They have a winning formula and quite rightly don’t deviate from it. It was a tour to promote a new album, and a good album it is, but for a large proportion it was the hits that they came for. That though was enough to warm them as they left for the cold night outside.

Deacon Blue stop off in Inverness as part of their tour;

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A notefrom the editor

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Frank Finlayson
Frank Finlayson
Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via frankieboyfin@gmail.com

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