Deacon Blue – The Brighton Centre – 30th September 2023
36 years since the release of their debut album Raintown, Deacon Blue were back in Brighton on Saturday with their ‘All the Old 45’s’ tour. The title is a nod to their highest charting single ‘Real Gone Kid’ and a reference to the speed that old singles played at – for those old enough to remember vinyl. With a title like that, it was obvious that the gig would be jam packed with old hits and the band didn’t disappoint.
The stage was stripped back, with only a few chairs and two old style microphones front and centre stage. The lighting was subdued – just standard lamps and twinkly lights as a backdrop, more reminiscent of your grandma’s front room that the stage for a pop concert. When they came on, the band gathered around the microphones and started with an acapella version of wages day before continuing with the first set – all played in a laid back acoustic.
This first half was a reimagining of many of their old songs played on acoustic guitars, an upright bass, and an accordian and gave a feeling of intimacy even in a hall as big as the Brighton Centre. Songs covered included Queen of the New Year, Chocolate Girl. The acoustics were spot on well mixed and balanced, and the vocal harmonies really worked well and pulled the tracks together.
The audience were quiet during each song but showed loud appreciation as each ended, suggesting that the mood the band wanted to create was working. Towards the end of the set front man, Ricky Ross, joked that they would ramp things up in the second half.
This first half ended with a short interval, during which the stage was transformed. Gone were the twinkly lights, replaced with LED and a row of screens at the back of the stage which, for the remainder of the show displayed archive photos and film clips. -The band returned to the stage with a costume change and a question for the audience “Are you ready to sing?” – undoubtedly we were. The opening track of the second half “The Hipsters” saw few bums in seats despite being a fully seated gig, with dancing, arm swaying and singing along, the party had started.
One hit followed another before a short story, telling the story of ‘Loaded’ and how that had become the band’s anthem in their early years and the one track that stuck with those who went to see them.
Deacon Blue formed in 1987, and we are all that bit older, but their energy and enthusiasm remains infectious and was transferred to the audience who, mostly of a similar vintage thrived on it. The song ‘Real Gone Kid’ was met with rapture and the first verse was sung mostly by the crowd. It was magical. Then it was time for the last few songs and Good Night….. but wait surely you’ve forgotten?……
They hadn’t, of course, and the encore gave us ‘Peace will Come’ and the anthemic ‘Dignity’ – the crowd nearly took the roof off the centre with their singalong – some of it in tune, before concluding with ‘Fergus Sings The Blues’.
10/10 for an all round evening and I am happy I was part of it!