It’s the early evening after the night before and there are so many random thoughts about the last few months that have flitted through my head on-stage , off-stage, mid-song and in the sleepless nights that have come with jumping time zones and keeping odd hours. 

I don’t get time to introduce all the songs in any meaningful way, but if I could sit down with you and explain these are a few of these random thoughts: The line in ‘Queen of The New Year’ about being as ‘innocent as hell’ come from the title of a TV documentary about a Glasgow band in the mid 80s….. I wrote Walk in The Woods as a response to the end of the 2018 tour. On getting home we just wanted to get lost in our favourite park……..  Bethlehem Begins is my attempt to understand Yeats’s ‘Sailing To Byzantium’ – but I’m still no closer. …….I realised in NZ that any attempt to imitate a Hammond B3 is pointless – only the real thing, played by Jim will work……. When I sing the lines ‘Junk food the whole over’s as good as standing round’ in ‘Twist and Shout’ each night I think of Dougie and I going to Paris to look at studios and realising we’d given ourselves no time to eat and had to scoff a Mickey D’s in the capital of cuisine…… Homesick James was a discovery of a blues singer I discovered while rifling through a guy’s record collection on my first ever visit to New York in 1988. Oh I could go on…it’s these random thoughts that come and go over the two hours when the show just keeps going despite trying to control it.

Last night, our second night in Auckland, New Zealand, was our last show of the year. There’s been so much planning, scheduling and organisation that has gone into this tour it seems hard to find ourselves near the end with one more country to go.

As Lorraine and I walked down the hill from our hotel to join our band and crew for the final gathering of the year, our Christmas lunch, we met a member of last night’s audience who was at pains to tell us how much he’d enjoyed the show. It was humbling and hugely uplifting to realise how sincere his praise was as Lorraine remembered seeing him standing in front of her, eyes closed, taking in the whole set.

After the show I reflected to an old friend how grateful we are to have a listening audience. So much of a rock show is heat and noise but we’ve always been able to have still, silent moments even in a noisy place like the Power Station here in Auckland. Last night was no different as people lingered late in the evening to sing Warren Zevon’s ‘Keep Me In Your Heart’ with us one last time. It’s the closer that’s remained constant on the tour since we first discovered it on a random Spotify playlist on our summer holiday in France in August. We all sing and play it and it has become a song by us to the audience and in turn a hymn of love for the special bond between everyone in the venue. On a perfect night – and there have been a good few these last months – it melts away that fourth wall until there is only one group of people in the room. It’s what gigs need to become, to make them work.

Gratitude towards the audience has taken a long time to learn for me. When I was younger I conceitedly believed I knew better; and playing what people wanted was rather beneath me. How wrong I was. Learning to please people has brought joy to me as well as to the audience and in these mad moments of the breakdown towards the end of Real Gone Kid when all pretence is lost and we are all a sweaty, exhausted mess of musicians tumbling around the stage, the greatest joy comes from knowing everyone is going to be very happy if we just sing ‘woo, oo, oo, oo’ one more time.

I remember playing a support slot way back in 87 at the Town and Country or some such place in North London. I looked out to see banks of male faces squashed in from the stage to the mixing desk. I remember thinking how I didn’t want to play to an audience of blokes or equally an audience of only women and somehow, in some magical way our audience has, since that time, remained beautifully balanced. That balance makes for a caring, listening crowd who also bring an energy to each outing. So, thank you, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Thank you for your beautiful scenery, your great welcomes and your  loving response. It’s made all our adventures feel so worthwhile. 

As I’m writing this I’m looking over a beautiful view of the harbour in Auckland as little ships, yachts and ferries scuttle across the bay. It’s summer here and after a short break we return to a Scottish winter, warm fires and short days. I’m looking forward to that.

 I hope you are in a place where you too can enjoy some Happy Holidays. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2024 when we gather next.

I know everyone in Deacon Blue joins me in sending our love and thanks for all your support.