REVIEW: Mcintosh Ross @ Pacific Road, Birkenhead 11/11/09

The International Guitar festival of Great Britain has been a fixture of the Wirral entertainment calendar for the past 20 years and as the event comes of age, the quality of the bookings and diversity of the artists and venues continues to grow. Bill Wyman, Glen Tilbrook, Nick Harper are just a very small selection of the names on offer this year and one of the most anticipated peformances was tonight’s return to the North West of Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh, bringing with them a bag full of new material from their new Great Lakes project.

Singer songwriter Darden Smith opened the show. The Texan wowed the audience with his crystal clear acoustic session and sharp wit. Highlight of his set was ‘Levee Song’ a composition co-written with Chip ‘Wild Thing’ Taylor of The Troggs. Smith won over the Birkenhead crowd with ease and left the stage to heartfelt applause.

There was an excited buzz among the small all seated audience, many of whom had not seen Mcintosh and Ross since their heyday of touring with Deacon Blue. The band walked onto the stage and immediately launched into tracks from their new album The Great Lakes. McIntosh looking every bit the rock chick in black velvet jacket and purple Doc Martens reminded us of her unique vocal quality and appeared very happy to back on the road again.

The influences of the Americana sound that the new album was based upon were clear from the off with Teenage Fanclub’s Dave McGowan on pedal steel guitar taking prominance in the early part of the set. The fact that this was a guitar festival had not escaped the band either with at least 10 versions of the instrument played across the evening.

With Deacon Blue on a semi hiatus Ricky Ross has spent much of the past decade sucessfully penning songs for other artists as well as keeping a foot in the door with a number of smaller solo projects. Great Lakes however, is the first time that the husband and wife pairing have recorded an album as a duo and the passion they showed in the performance underlines this.

Once the band had settled in to the evening they began to play the real gems from the album with ‘Straight Man’ and ‘Silver & Gold’ reminding everyone what great purveyors of the pop song McIntosh and Ross truly are. We were also treated to a couple of new songs the seasonal ‘Harvest Comes Around’ and the electrifying ‘Got A Little Joy Here’ which proved to be the highlight of the evening. Closing out with three more songs from the Great Lakes album the band left to great applause from the nomally reserved Pacific Road audience.

The band swiftly reappeared for the encore forming a semi circle, front of stage to perform a note perfect acapella of ‘Jesus Nailed His Sins Upon The Tree’ which sent shivers down the spine of the venue. There was a degree of understanding and patience among the audience that this was a tour promoting the new album and was not a Deacon Blue retrospective, but there was a feeling among some at the end of the show that we had been cheated slightly. The fact that Ross and Mcintosh side stepped the Deacon Blue back catalogue, even doing a cover of The Who’s ‘Kids are Alright’ in the encore while refusing point blank to play ‘Dignity’, ‘Fergus Sings the Blues’ etc just seemed overly stubborn. That said this was a quality perfomance

Full Set List

1. The Great Lakes
2. Bluebell Wood
3. Your Straight Man
4. Winter is Coming
5. Silver and Gold
6. Summer
7. Cover From The Sky
8. Pale Rider
9. Walls
10. Got A Little Joy Here
11. Mount Juliet
12. Harvest Comes Around
13. A Passing Place
14. All My Trust I Place in You
15. This World is Not My Home

encore

16. Jesus Nailed His Sins Upon The Tree
17. The Kids are Alright
18. Gloria

Reviewer: Rich Denton

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