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REVIEW: Deacon Blue rock Aberdeen’s P&J Live

A night to remember as Deacon Blue commanded Aberdeen's P&J Live stage.
A night to remember as Deacon Blue commanded Aberdeen's P&J Live stage.

Aberdeen may have had to wait patiently for deacon Blue to perform at P&J Live after two years of delays, but it was worth it.

Embarking on the first date of their Cities of Love tour, Deacon Blue brought fun, tenderness and passion to their vibrant performance at P&J Live.

The diversity of their tracklist reflected the audience demographic as fans old and new revelled in the sound of the distinctive Glasgow band.

Deacon Blue lead singer Ricky Ross donning a pink shirt and braces on stage in Aberdeen.

Their lyrics of working class hope and struggle still strike a chord 35 years on from the release of their debut album Raintown.

And most importantly, that ship called Dignity still has plenty of sailing left in it yet.

Aberdeen return

The last time Deacon Blue visited Aberdeen was at the former AECC in December 2016.

In front of the P&J Live crowd this time round, atmosphere and excitement was rife from the get go after Interlopers warmed up the stage.

Support band, Interlopers.

The new project from Steven Lindsay, formerly of early 90s Scottish guitar band The Big Dish, their performance was peppered with a few decent moments.

Their reverby aura was fitting with arena’s setting, but as the crowd gathered in dribs and drabs, there was only one thing on people’s minds: The arrival of Deacon Blue.

Deacon Blue

There’s something about Deacon Blue’s sound that’s just synonymously Scottish.

Whether it’s those 80s keyboard effects or lead singer Ricky Ross’ smoky vocals matching with that of his wife, band backing vocalist Lorraine McIntosh, together, it’s a sound that’s theirs.

Bright stage lights were a key feature of Deacon Blue’s performance.

And it’s also a sound which they’ve continued to evolve over the years, particularly noticeable in their opening track City of Love from their latest album.

Bright lights matched the uplifting feel of the track before Chocolate Girl made an early appearance in the set and really brought the crowd into energetic action.

Charisma

Deacon Blue chimed with the times of the late 80s.

Fun and lavishness but also truth and honesty were visible in their faces back then, and that didn’t change here in Aberdeen.

While Ricky may have shown his 64 years of age just a touch, his wife Lorraine was undoubtebdly the star of the show.

Lorraine McIntosh was a stand out performer.

Spinning around in her white shirt and jacket like Stevie Nicks, she tore up the stage like she hadn’t aged a bit.

Her charisma was palpable, but so too were the vocal harmonies between her and Ricky throughout the set.

Added props including a harmonica prelude before Raintown and a letter from Peterhead addressed to ‘thon deacon Blue manny’, which Ricky read out on stage, offered nice personal touches to the show.

Crowd pleasers

Loaded, one of the key singles from their Raintown album, landed just after the midway point in the set and was the first of a number of crowd pleasers to follow.

A quick shift to a small acoustic setup offered a change in dynamic, bringing a warm and intimate feel to the performance which went down well with the crowd.

Ricky busting out a move.

However, this also provided a perfect contrasting dynamic to the rocking sound of Real Gone Kid – the lead track from the album which rocked Madonna off the top of the album charts in 1989, When the World Knows Your Name.

This resonated most with the crowd; reminiscing over photographs, playing all the old 45s and bringing back those souvenirs.

It was what they’d been waiting for. And although a few other newer, well performed tracks fell a bit flat, the band had a few extra tricks up their sleeve for the encore.

Deacon Blue drummer and TV presenter, Dougie Vipond.

Dignity

Waking back to a rapturous reception, the final flurry began with a tender acoustic ballad as bubble machines spread liquid joy among the crowd.

A further track written especially for those suffering in Ukraine touched the hearts of the audience, but its transition into Deacon Blue’s signature track Dignity was something to behold.

“One more track?”

There wasn’t a sad face in sight as the song rang out. The crowd were on their feet, singing the words back louder than on stage and as you looked around, it’s moments like these that make you remember what music is all about – bringing people together.

Sailing into the sunset

Coming up to four decades in the industry, Deacon Blue show no signs of heading off into the sunset yet.

They’ll always be loved most for their classic tracks. But judging by their Aberdeen performance, they’re still thoroughly enjoying every minute of what they’re doing.

Gregor Philip, Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh loving being back on a north-east stage.

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