Gig review: Deacon Blue at the Roundhouse

Deacon Blue may not be cool, but they sure know how to perform an awesome pop song, writes Amy Humphreys

Deacon Blue arrived at the Roundhouse in the final stages of a UK tour to promote their new album The Hipsters (an ironic and self-aware title if ever there was one), and to dig out their particular brand of earnest, soulful pop.

Let’s face it, this gig was never going to be about innovation; on their website lead singer Ricky Ross describes the part-time Scottish foursome as ‘the uncoolest band in the world’. Poor grammar aside, I was interested to see if late-eighties ‘uncool’ music would be palatable in 2012 to anyone other than die-hard fans, and if it could have any value beyond the purely nostalgic.

As I entered the venue it was immediately obvious that this was not your normal Camden crowd. Cutting a surprisingly suave figure at the microphone, Ross congratulated the audience on our ability to remain standing for the duration, and expressed pleasant surprise that there were people in the pit actually younger than him.

It was a huge relief to learn that they are in on the joke. There was to be no self-aggrandisement this night. I was thus able to relax and allow myself to be taken in by their effortlessly pure harmonies (led by Ross’s wife and angelically-toned vocalist Lorraine McIntosh) and the rousing call and response choruses of Real Gone Kid, which reminded me that although they may not be cool, they sure as heck know how to perform an awesome pop song. This is a band who has always sounded better live than recorded, and one cannot help but be impressed by how well they still hang together 10 years since their last release.

There was nothing fresh here (even the new tracks blend into their discography with alarming familiarity), but why must that be a bad thing? If the old tracks are good and people want to hear them (which judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm they clearly do) then hurrah. And if the fervour proves short-lived then they still have their day jobs to go back to. Now that’s 2012 thinking for you. Deacon Blue, I salute you.

* Deacon Blue played the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm Road, NW1, on Monday, October 22.