As the lights dim, Deacon Blue announce their presence from offstage with an a capella opening verse of People Get Ready (written by Curtis Mayfield). Audience reaction suggests that the advice contained within the title of that song has already been taken firmly to heart.
The set proper opens with Come Awake and Gone from the band’s new album, The Believers. More familiar ditties such as Circus Lights, Chocolate Girl, and Twist and Shout feature prominently in the opening portion of the concert.
Ricky Ross confesses conspiratorially that Deacon Blue have always really enjoyed playing gigs in Edinburgh (but wheesht, don’t let Glasgow folk know). In fairness, he also speaks of having spent many romantic nights in Glasgow by the banks of the Clyde, watching the bodies float past. There’s been a murderrrrrr [(c) Taggart], not involving a performance by Patrick Thistle? Eek!
During a blistering version of Real Gone Kid, Ross descends from the stage and plunges into the supportive (and swaying) arms of the audience.
A spirited rendition of Wages Day is immediately followed by Fergus Sings the Blues. Given the latter’s rousing and uplifting qualities, it must surely be a candidate for the Scottish national anthem – dear French friends, we’ll see your Marseillaise and raise you Fergus.
The very best concerts are where it is clear that a band are enjoying being on stage just as much as the audience are witnessing the performance – a symbiotic relationship where audience and band feed off the energy supplied by each other in a virtuous feedback loop. Tonight’s gig is a prime example of that relatively rare genre.
An extended encore follows which seems to last longer (in a good way) than entire sets by many support acts. It is liberally packed with such gems as I’ll Never Fall in Love Again, the classic Dignity, Loaded and Queen of the New Year.
That’s all folks? Perish the thought. As the band has largely exited the stage, Ross lingers and with a mischievous grin waves his colleagues back. A cover of Paul McCartney’s Every Night (from his first post-Beatles solo album) is the last hurrah. Dougie Vipond abandons his drums to join guitarist Gregor Philip at front of stage, both providing supporting vocals.
Based on the broad grins which are evident on many faces, this is a night where the audience has never felt less like singing the blues. A rerr terr.
Tonight’s lesson? Fashions may change over time, but class acts will always endure.