Sometimes you go to a gig that’s so inspiring that it becomes a lifetime favourite. Deacon Blue at Sheffield City Hall has found a place in my heart.

December can be a dark and dismal month, so when a friend told me she had seen Deacon Blue in Manchester and they were amazing I took a chance on getting a last minute ticket for their concert at Sheffield City Hall.

When ‘Raintown’ came out in 1987 I was busy bringing up babies. Bands like Deacon Blue and Prefab Sprout were having hits and making the playlists. I enjoyed their songs but I never got to see them.

Recent interest in the Sounds of the Eighties on radio and TV has reminded me just how good many of the bands of the day were and continue to be.

That’s the secret, of course. Some of those musicians and songwriters have continued to perform and write, developing their distinctive sound over the decades and gaining new fans along the way.

Deacon Blue are definitely one of these bands. Ricky Ross has had an interesting parallel career as a presenter on BBC Radio Scotland. As a songwriter he has continued to write thoughtful lyrics, sharing and telling stories his fans can identify with. Their musical style is instantly recognisable but always fresh.

This To Be Here Someday tour takes its title from a line in one of my favourite songs ‘Dignity’. It’s a celebration of thirty years of Deacon Blue. They aren’t touring a new album. Their most recent, 'Believers', was released in 2016. They are touring a celebration of their entire catalogue of songs, from their debut album ‘Raintown’, released in 1987, right through to the present day.

The City Hall was packed with excited fans, eager to take Ricky at his word and have "the best night of our lives."

It’s the connection with the audience that puts their performance on another level. The energy that the band put into their show is matched by the excitement of their fans. Ricky was at the front of the stage, making eye contact, taking selfies, inviting the audience to sing, dance and above all experience the music and the memories. Lorraine McIntosh’s voice swoops and soars over the melodies and her dancing swoops and soars too. There’s a backdrop of films and videos, some personal cine films, some impressionistic, others taking us all back to when we were younger.
We were treated to over two hours of music. The pace never faltered. The band’s performance was emotional, warm, affectionate, giving, passionate, committed. Everything you’d want from a long term relationship, and for many of the fans there this was a relationship that went way back. Some had even brought the next generation with them. There were a couple of times while Ricky was talking or the song was quiet when it would have been respectful for the audience to be silent. We should have been able to hear a pin drop. In fact some were so "over excited" they got themselves thrown out. They must be gutted to realise what they missed.

Ricky talked about their connection to Sheffield, even giving us a bit of local dialect with "Shut it, mardy." It seemed we all had history.

They played twenty-five songs in a set that lasted well over two hours. It seemed like they had sung every song you could think of and more besides. They worked arrangements of old favourites into their own back catalogue. So 'Chocolate Girl' included James Taylor’s 'You Got a Friend', and 'When Will You Make my Telephone Ring?' transformed into the Chi -Lites 'Have You Seen Her?' There was a great version of Dylan’s 'Like a Rolling Stone' too. This was a set list that didn’t disappoint and there was more to come.

The encore brought introductions to the musicians, boy band style with each taking a vocal, James Prime on piano and keyboards, Lewis Gordon on bass, Dougie Vipond on drums and Gregor Philp on guitar.

There was some funny stuff with his mobile phone, Instagram and an invitation for questions and comments from the audience. Ricky Ross made the City Hall feel like a cosy club.

The encores included a great version of ‘Cool Jerk’, a reminder of the influence of soul on their music. Of course. they are Scottish too, so ‘Fergus Sings the Blues’ had to be included. ‘Dignity’ had all of us singing our hearts out. A cover of ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Home’ finished the first encore. That’s how we all felt so then they came back for another cover with ‘Always On My Mind’.

This felt like a home coming gig in Sheffield, and it was wonderful to be a part of it. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see them in Glasgow a couple of nights later.

"Every time I think of that night I still smile."

I have to mention their support act too, Blue Rose Code. They got a well-deserved, enthusiastic reception from the audience for their set and I look forward to seeing them again at the Greystones in Sheffield in March.













Related Links:

http://www.deaconblue.com/
https://twitter.com/deaconbluemusic
https://www.facebook.com/deaconbluemusic


Commenting On: City Hall, Sheffield, 11/12/2018 - Deacon Blue








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