Record Overplayed
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Delays | Sheffield Leadmill and Leeds Cockpit | October 2004

Lost In Their Melodies

Gig Review and Photos by Dawn

In July 2003 a virtually unknown Delays played at the Leadmill as support to (the now defunct) Easyworld with a performance which demanded plaudits equal to those of the evening's headliners and, for those not already familiar with them, higlighted the quartet's enormous potential.

Fifteen months on, following several successful singles, a Top 20 album, a summer of festivals and months of touring the globe with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, the two Yorkshire venues are filled not just with people but with tremendous anticipation as the stage is set for the Southampton foursome's triumphant return.

Two huge, shattered mirrors stand to attention on opposite sides of Rowly's sparkling drumkit as a striking neon blue ropelight is intertwined with the stage equipment to ensure a suitably spectacular start as the band appear, accompanied by atmospheric lights and the spine-tingling sounds of B-side Zero Zero One. Within seconds, the room reverberates with the haunting sound of frontman Greg Gilbert's unmistakeable falsetto then, before the audience have time to catch their collective breath, the boys burst into Bedroom Scene, Greg's brother Aaron providing the familiar opening chimes as Colin Fox concentrates on his deliciously vibrant bassline.

Formerly a coy onstage figure content to let his music do the talking, the diminutive Greg now possesses a poise and self-assurance surely the product of his band's relentless touring and while he'll never rival the brazen antics of his younger sibling, his newfound confidence (further signified by some rather nifty footwork in the form of energetic ankle twists and guitar star jumps) is a joy to witness. Already adept at filling the hugest of venues with his distinctive voice, he now also fills them with his presence and, with Colin's voice the perfect complement to Greg's own flawless vocal performance, Aaron's apparently endless energy and stalwart sticksman Rowly, Delays - already revered for their professional shows - have suddenly risen to a whole new level. Whilst in Sheffield the boys' clear passion for their music is undeniably infectious, an especially zealous Cockpit crowd spur the boys on still further with singing and fervent applause more commonly the domain of much more established acts.

Testing unreleased material at gigs is always a gamble but on this tour it's one which pays off handsomely as fans eagerly devour excerpts from the band's forthcoming second album. Unfamiliar the new songs may be, yet they are received equally as enthusiastically as the Faded Seaside Glamour favourites. As demonstrated on irresistible single Long Time Coming, Delays have a wonderful knack of combining instantly addictive electronic sounds with unforgettable guitar melodies and clearly these enviable talents are still going strong; with its intriguing synth sounds and raucous, husky vocals, forthcoming single Lost In A Melody is the boys' most outwardly brash effort thus far, yet still it remains magnificently melodic and surely destined to be their most successful song to date. Out of Nowhere's infectious energy and piercing, driving electronica give it an immediate anthemic quality, while both songs see the return of that trademark falsetto (which convinced countless pairs of ears that Delays' previous singles were sung by a woman) along with the manic energy and unashamed flamboyance which makes one question whether Rowly is descended from Animal of the Muppets. Lillian, meanwhile, sees the boys go back to basics with a good old-fashioned guitar track brimming with all the bounce of the Bluetones' Marblehead Johnson and typically gorgeous harmonies proving that the Gilbert brothers can write perfect pop songs both with and without the aid of synthesisers.
However, with its sweeping, majestic opening, mid-song chimes and breathtaking vocals soaring higher and higher, the most stunning of the new songs has to be the utterly sublime Angel, already a favourite among the die-hard fans thanks to a handful of previous live outings. With such ethereal performances and light shows, celestial song titles such as this and Nearer Than Heaven have never been as apt for a band as they are here. We may never know who was responsible for breaking those giant onstage mirrors but rest assured that with songs and shows like this, there's no danger of these boys being cursed with seven years bad luck.

A million thanks to the lovely Delays boys, to Mike and to Ed. Lost In A Melody is released on November 22nd. Visit www.theDelays.co.uk for more information.

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