DELAYS – ‘Faded Seaside Glamour’ tour
Backstage, Greg Gilbert is pacing.
This is the first time the Delays frontman has played in the capital for a long time – and it’s showing. Ohhhing and ahhhing in various octaves, his random vocal callisthenics alone are worthy of a favourable review, but even this finely attuned voice can’t help but feel the jitters. A beer is proffered; he declines. I decide it’s time to help out. Hic! Before stepping out into a yearning crowd, he paces some more, a wanderlust that doesn’t quite know which direction it wants to go. Stage time, and there’s another Wanderlust that has to be unleashed onto a crowd that, in the intervening years, has wandered nowhere.
The 10th anniversary of the release of debut album Faded Seaside Glamour has prompted this special tour, and it seems the audience for that particular milestone is still hearing that knocking in their souls. Standing on a small stage with a swathe of expectant faces glaring up at him, Greg Gilbert unleashes his unearthly falsetto – and the whole room draws breath. As reviews go, silence says it all. It seems a decade hasn’t made a single dent in Gilbert’s voice – the angels in heaven are still pissed off they’re playing second fiddle to him. Or harp. Musically, the opening track still retains its ethereal quality, and within seconds the walls of this cavernous venue seem to have evaporated.
Tonight, the entire debut album is played out consecutively, track by track, and once the opening song fades into the ether, Nearer Than Heaven descends like another commandment from on high – dripping with nostalgia, but still as vital and vibrant as when it first emerged. Likewise, crowd favourite and supernaturally sonorous classic Long Time Coming has aged less than if it had a portrait of itself hiding in the attic – a Wilde accusation. How can it grow old? It can’t. And Greg Gilbert’s impassioned delivery paints it as the portrait of perfection it still is.
Track-by-track enactments can be a bit stultifying, though the fresh energy reigniting these tracks feels like a rebirth – You Wear The Sun doing just that, a shimmering mirage of heart-on-sleeve splendour; hit single Hey Girl rocking a little harder than its recorded version, to which Greg Gilbert acknowledges once again his gratitude to Radio 1’s Mark & Lard – staunch supporters of said track.
Midway in the night’s salient track, Stay Where You Are, Greg gives a wave in my direction during the chorus, aware as he is of my love for this song, but also seeming to have settled into himself and his performance – those pre-gig jitters apparently exorcised.
Typified by the delicate waterfall of Satellite’s Lost, Greg’s fibrous vocals have never sounded so pure. Finishing the album off with the stunning outro of One Night Away (“The feeling is love”) and an aptly relentless On – which sees Greg’s brother Aaron taking the reigns and conducting the audience into a minor freak-out –the album comes to a close.
But they’re not done yet, the encore reminding how much this band have in their repertoire. Hideaway has the crowd doing anything but – a hands-aloft extroverted celebration that celebrates the joy of life on its sleeve and doesn’t give a shit who knows about it; perennial b-side favourite Lost In A Melody gets the disco started, while the Aaron-led party trick that is In Brilliant Sunshine has the entire room in absolute raptures – the roof under threat from its transcendent chorus.
Finishing off with some of the best tracks from this great album’s successor, You See Colours, Delays close the show in glorious Technicolor, with a garish version of You And Me and the most roof-raising interpretation of Valentine that threatens to bring the house down. “We are Delays,” Greg says humbly to an audience who, on this showing, will never will forget just who they are.
They exit, with a tidal wave of applause and admiration flushing them out the doors.
What the hell was there to be nervous about?
After the show, we’re backstage, and Greg Gilbert is pacing again. This time it’s a different kind of wanderlust – these footsteps are alive with anticipation. The nerves have been exorcised, and it seems he can’t wait to get going again.
Nothing has faded; the glamour remains.
*An edited version of this review will appear in Record Collector magazine in the UK and Filter magazine in the US