Review: Stripped back to blue basics: Ricky Ross Jazz Cafe, Camden, London

Ricky Ross

Jazz Cafe, Camden, London

It's interesting to see in Camden among the cosmopolitan diners, when his old band, Deacon Blue, sung about small towns, unemployment and dark hours. Like a Scottish footballer planted in an English shirt, Deacon Blue's glory days saw them as a novel import at Wembley Arena gigs. Tonight's solo incarnation has Ricky playing both sides, giving London a stripped sound with the parochial authenticity of acoustic folk, conjuring feelings of a whisky-sodden hovel in Fife. No foul play here as whatever shirt he is wearing, Ricky is a mean player.

After a foot-stomping welcome, he commanded reverential quiet at the Jazz Cafe, joking that we pay while he gets some therapy through the personal outpourings in his songs. There was at least one person in the audience thinking of her first love, although gone are the tight leather trousers (now to be seen reaching parts of U2), the generous vocals of the bust- in-basque figure of Lorraine McIntosh and the pitch-filling anthems of Deacon Blue. The Sean Connery of Scottish pop stands alone; charming, quietly talented, and adding credibility to his pop background.

played the piano, harmonica and guitar - like the lone piper left over from the ceilidh-like circus of Deacon Blue sets, a dextrous tunesmith banishing the memory of solo failure after success with the band. He called the audience's support "nice", but this was an unnecessary sign of gratitude, as there was no mob to lynch him for abandoning Deacon Blue, especially as he filled the stage himself with his growls and shouts. Most songs came with an amusing anecdote and there was a tangible and hard-won intimacy, more than comparable to watching "Later With Jools Holland" from the couch.

It wasn't until half-time that Deacon Blue's bittersweet "Love and Regret" and "Dignity" were played, and the audience were on the terraces, singing their national tunes. In the mid-80s, Deacon Blue's debut album Raintown had created the soundtrack for growing up: "Dignity" and its story of dreams and nightmare jobs; the adolescent yearnings of "When Will You Make My Phone Ring"; the obsessive first-love trappings of the "Chocolate Girl". By choosing to play "Dignity" (which catapulted them into the charts) as well as a track that was not released as a a single ("Love And Regret") Ricky revealed his new goalposts as somewhere between chart-unfriendly folk and catchy hit material. The Deacon Blue highlights were full of impressive acoustic dribbles and vocal swerves, never straying into their stadium-rock days.

The support were the serene Hank Dogs, with a harmonious folk set building on their debut album produced by Joe Boyd - the first time he has been involved in this type of music since working with Nick Drake, the McGarrigle sisters and Norma Waterson. Unfortunately the "STFU-During Performances" sign was too subtle a warning. Though well worth seeing by themselves, in tonight's setting the Hank Dogs served more as a reminder of the need for the kind of audience-friendly pop hooks that does so well, and a warning that a pared-down live set is a difficult thing to pull off.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Corporate Tax Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

    Relationship Manager

    £500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

    Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

    £15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

    Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

    £250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home