Ricky Ross: Speaking up for the ordinary man

Deacon Blue singer and songwriter Ricky Ross during a tour of familiar Glasgow streets.  At the Park Circus. Scene of band picture taken for album cover.  Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 14th Aug 2012

Deacon Blue singer and songwriter Ricky Ross during a tour of familiar Glasgow streets. At the Park Circus. Scene of band picture taken for album cover. Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 14th Aug 2012

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Ricky Ross, Carnegie Hall

Listening to Ricky Ross at the piano singing about Dundee, it was impossible not to draw a line directly to the late, great Michael Marra.

The fact he encored with ‘Hermless’ - Marra’s beautifully written song about life’s gentle folk - just sealed it for me.

Ross still enjoys life fronting the evergreen Deacon Blue, but as an intelligent, compassionate songwriter he has much in common with Marra.

His songs evoke the fears, hopes and dreams of ordinary people, drawing heavily on the Scots love of folk with just a tinge of country.

His new album, ‘Trouble Came Looking’ tackles the human cost of the recession in a series of songs which are quite beautiful - none more so than the closing track ‘Holy Night’ which celebrates the smallest yet most important rituals of Christmas. Close your eyes and you just picture the video ...

The set drew heavily on his own solo albums rather than Deacon Blue’s biggest hits. Indeed there were only two - ‘Real Gone Kid’ and ‘Wages Day’ and both were delivered in very different styles from their stadium pleasing original versions.

He cajoled his audience into a sing-along with ‘The Germans Are Out Today’ - a track from his ‘84 album ‘So Long Ago’ - and then called on support My Darling Clementine to add some subtle vocals to ‘‘How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live’’, a song first penned by Blind Afred Reed in 1926, made famous by Ry Cooder but more recently delivered live with stunning power by Bruce Springsteen.

In Ross’ hands, the pain and hurt of the lyrics were just as evident with a simple acoustic backdrop.

A gem of a gig and a chance to appreciate a first-rate singer-songwriter, and a master of his craft.

Just as Marra was ...

Allan Crow