Review | Deacon Blue at Portsmouth Guildhall: 'Tightly delivered, note perfect and lapped up by the fans'

'Special night,' said Ricky Ross as he came back for a loudly demanded second encore at the end of Deacon Blue's first night of two at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 8:48 pm
Deacon Blue, at Portsmouth Guildhall in 2018. Picture: Sarah Gerrish

I'm glad he thought it was... because we certainly did.

Live music was away so long I think some of us forgot how good it was when done well. This was my first gig for two years and two days and the perfect reminder of what a joy it can be, not to mention very well worth the long wait.

Ricky, Lorraine McIntosh and the rest of the band have every bit as much energy and enthusiasm for their craft as they had when Dignity gave them their first Top 40 hit close on 34 years ago and announced their arrival on the scene.

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They gave old songs (pretty much all the ones you'd hope for if you've been a fan since the start), they gave us new songs, they gave us beautiful ballads, they gave us fast-moving numbers that had plenty on their feet and dancing in what should have been an all-seater crowd.

And all of it was tightly delivered, note perfect and lapped up by the fans.

This is the band's Cities of Love tour which was supposed to happen more than a year ago to coincide with their City of Love album but of course was put on hold in the pandemic.

Ricky referred a number of times during his between-songs chat with the crowd to just how good it was to be back on the road... even if over-exertion during an earlier gig had led him hurting his calf and having to tone down his on-stage movements a little.

Deacon Blue are not a band who are resting on their ’80s and ’90s laurels and giving fans only a predictable run-through of the old hits.

There's as much new as old in the set and the current output stands up very well in the scheme of things.

Ricky is a superb lyricist and – in parts of the set – storyteller and the way his booming vocals mix with those of Lorraine gives Deacon Blue a unique sound.

This show – preceded here by an excellent support set by Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, standing in for positive-Covid-test casualty Jamie Lawson – is enhanced by superb lighting and visuals which add to the experience without taking anything away from the music.

It's wonderful to have live music back (and yes I know it's been back a while but it hadn't invited me along 'til now). And it's great to have Deacon Blue back.

Long may both be with us.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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