Well, not really, but they certainly improved it greatly! I had the pleasure of seeing Southampton’s finest (only?) electro-pop-rock group the Delays live in a venue only 20 minutes from my house. It was the quickest journey to a gig I’d ever had.
When I entered the club (Reading’s Fez Club) all I could see was rows and rows of people and I couldn’t see the stage, so I walked around the side and then suddenly I was at the front! So of course I decided to stand still and not move, even though I was right next to the speakers so that when the music started the floor and I were shaking so much I worried that my entire body was about to turn inside out. Luckily I still seem to be the right way up, but I was quite concerned!
I had cleverly skipped the support band, a group called Apartment, whose MySpace I’d been on beforehand and wasn’t impressed, but sadly I still had the worst bit of the night to come: a DJ from XFM called something like Eddie Temple-Morris, who began with Valentine which of course was very nice of him, but merged it into such horrors as U2, Blur and the Arctic Monkeys. There was also a song everyone seemed to know that involved screaming “hello!” so in my boredom I screamed “goodbye!” back and did get some funny looks, but I didn’t succeed in getting him to go away.
At last at about 10 o’clock the band came on stage. I had been excited before the show, having noticed I was the closest person to one of the microphones, but sadly it turned out to belong to the band’s resident ugly person, Colin. Have you ever met an attractive Colin? I know I haven’t. However, as expected the singer Greg Gilbert made up for it very well with his shining beauty. He is a strange case because it’s hard to say why he is attractive (he looks a little scruffy and was wearing a tracksuit top) but he really has something compelling about him, a dreaminess that matches his heart-fluttering voice.
The show began with first album hit Long Time Coming, which was a great sing-along track, and was followed by 2nd album tracks Sink Like A Stone and Lillian. Other tracks played from You See Colours included Out Of Nowhere and Waste of Space, while Hey Girl, Wanderlust and Nearer Than Hevaen were the tracks chosen from Faded Seaside Glamour, and they played a new song which sounded great too. Nearer Than Heaven is quite significant for me, as it was the first song I heard by the band, and I heard it at the same time I first heard of them, which, unusually for me, was when they had entered the top 40. I even remember where I was: in the car just driving into the village where I used to live. I didn’t pay them much attention until they released Lost In A Melody, and then I was a fan for life.
The Delays are an interesting band because they have loads of very good songs and many great ones, but there are 4 songs that they have released which are just phenomenally, mindblowingly fantastic. These are Hideaway, Lost In A Melody, Valentine and You & Me. Hideaway was played amongst the 1st album tracks, and announced by Greg as their ‘glam rock song’ which I had never thought of it as personally, but I guess it kind of is. I just see it as their jolly pop song. They played LIAM and Valentine in succession which was almost too much for my little heart, especially with all the vibration and heat as well – Greg said it was the hottest gig they’d ever played! Valentine was especially great cos it was the track everyone had to sing along to, even boring people, and with it’s ‘love song you can dance to’ qualities it couldn’t be more perfect for a gig.
Then for the encore it was their cover of Give Peace A Chance (in which I learned that I know 4 John Lennon songs, not 3, because I remembered this one) and then the most beautiful of all Delays songs (and a recent posting on Into The Groove), You And Me. It was great to hear this last and therefore have it’s brilliance acknowledged. Everyone sang along and it was one of those euphoric gig moments that you very occasionally find and never want to end.
The Delays are a band impossible to explain or classify. I can say they have electro sounds with guitars and drums and high-pitched vocals but this would not convey their utterly unique style and sound. Their music to me is not like music – each song is an overwhelming feeling and there are so many moments in the songs, particularly the 4 special ones, where you feel like your heart is whooshing up into your head and making you feel utterly amazing. All I can do is recommend you go and listen for yourself, and give them a few listens because it does take a few to get used to them but once you do I have no doubt you’ll be as obsessed as I am!