Live @ Bristol Fleece & Firkin
March 4, 2006
Review & Photography: Steve Bateman

Raspberry Beret by Prince, isn't the most typical song that you would expect a band to use as their intro music, but then the Delays have never been like any other band, and are all the better for it!

Cleverly, the song not only sets the tone for what to expect from tonight's gig, but also hints at what fans can hope for from the band's vibrant, melodic and joyous new album, You See Colours. As even though pop remains at the heart of their multi-layered sound, it has impressively progressed, by skilfully merging heavier dance and rock grooves together, into what one reviewer praised as, 'A musical palette of kaleidoscope splendour'.

Like many fans, my first taste of Delays' new material came in April 2005, when they supported the magnificent Manic Street Preachers. Having been given an advance promo copy of You See Colours since that time, every single track has, in its own way, left an indelible mark on me, and could perhaps be described as, 'The thrill of the new, the comfort of the old'.

Stand-alone single, Lost In A Melody, is a dazzling set-opener tonight, and instantly transports us to a futuristic disco. Beginning with Aaron's sole keyboards (which are now much more to the fore), the song then erupts into razor-sharp stomp, with guitar licks, crushing drums and a heartbeat bassline, before Greg screams the lines, "STOP! You wouldn't want to waste it, don't think of the doubt - Oh how could you misplace it? No you can't replace it."

The glam rock of Lillian then fizzes and explodes, after which Greg says, "This next song is from our debut album, which was out a couple of years ago, and when you sing along, it make us feel good about ourselves." The dolphin-like synth noises, then flag the start of a mass sing-along, to the rousing anthem Long Time Coming. It also sees Greg's body overtaken by unstoppable rhythm, and Aaron momentarily stepping away from his keyboards to observe the crowd.

Out Of Nowhere, quickly pins us to the floor with its swathes of siren synths and sawing guitar, before the euphoric and impeccable You And Me, blankets us with its sonorous orchestration and emotionally-charged meaning. Inspired by a documentary about deserters from the Iraq War, it contains lyrics such as, "And we can lay low tonight, no I don't have the will to fight, my president or his designs - You and me coulda been fine, you and me were gonna be fine."

This song goes down a storm with the audience, and looking delighted with its reaction, Greg jokes, "That's from our new album which is released on Monday, and I was told that the professional thing to say to you, is to go out and buy it!"

In a break from the norm, Greg performs Bedroom Scene alone, which not only gives the song a brittle sparseness and otherworldly quality, but also mesmerises the crowd with his soaring, angelic voice - which on some songs, can also metamorphosize into a fierce growl. The honey-drenched Wanderlust and Nearer Than Heaven, are then paired together, and as two of the band's finest songs, they thus deliver a double knockout blow!

After band intros from Greg, the Fleetwood Mac-esque Hideaway lifts us even further to the stars, with its glistening and romantic chorus, "You are my only hideaway, you make the world seem bigger." A fan then shouts out, "That should be your next single, " to which Greg laughs and asks him, "Are you from Rough Trade?"

On is intoxicating, especially when towards the end of the track, Greg holds his guitar over the first few rows of the audience. The '60s harmonies of Hey Girl then breeze by effortlessly, and it still sounds like a lost classic from that period, whereas This Town's Religion, sounds incensed and is introduced by Greg as, "A song about Chavs - we love them," he says sarcastically.

Picking up from where Lost In A Melody left off, Valentine serves up another heady-rush of icy cool dance beats, with a brief, soothing interlude before its finale, where the band rock-out once again, leaving Greg to sing the concluding couplet, "Just tell me the truth, it makes me feel better - Love in your eyes, it makes me feel better."

In reference to the Delays' debut appearance on Top Of The Pops (with this particular single), he says, "Even my Granddad said we looked great!"

For the band's encore, we're rewarded with a luscious One Night Away, and its closing feedback seamlessly transforms into a gleaming Stay Where You Are. With gratified cheers hurled at the band afterwards, Greg ends, "Thanks for coming down, we know we've been away for a while, so we don't take this for granted!"

Having interviewed the Delays in May 2004 for R*E*P*E*A*T, I was lucky enough to spend time with Aaron, Greg, Colin and Rowly earlier that afternoon, and it was really fantastic seeing them again. Aaron told me how he "accidentally lost over 100 songs on his laptop," which at the time, was devastating for the band, but that they bounced back "by writing even better ones!" He also introduced me to his girlfriend, who is a Primary School Teacher, and who had brought along drawings of each band member by her pupils!

The guys also kindly signed all of my new records, and Aaron generously gave me a Delays mug, which features the colourful wires on the You See Colours artwork - "They're perfect for coffee," he said smiling!

When asked to describe the Delays, Greg often uses a word that I feel is very appropriate, he calls them "Fabulists" - and in my opinion, their music should be heard by as many people as possible, as they truly deserve to be massive!

A very special thanks to Aaron, Greg, Colin and Rowly, to the Delays' Tour Manager Jason, to Jamie @ Rough Trade, and to Carl @ Coalition, for all of their time and help.

Bristol Set List

Lost In A Melody
Long Time Coming
Out Of Nowhere
You And Me
Bedroom Scene
Nearer Than Heaven
Hey Girl
This Town's Religion
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
One Night Away
Stay Where You Are


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