Abundant Life Centre, Friday 9th December 2005 concert review by Mike Rimmer.
Delirious? chose to kick off their short British tour at The Abundant Life Centre in Bradford. In reality, it's the perfect place to start as the church's young and excitable congregation are already singing songs from the new album during their Sunday worship. Standing in the foyer of the church as hundreds of young people stream past into the main auditorium, it seems incredible that most of these people are too young to remember the band putting "Deeper" into the charts or the days when Cutting Edge worship was really revolutionising the Church. This is born out by the fact that the band omit their most famous songs from that period choosing to concentrate on material from 'The Mission Bell' and 'World Service'.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves! Backstage before the gig the band and support artist American Kendal Payne occupy one of the most sumptuous rooms I have ever seen. The upstairs private lounge in Abundant Life Centre is all soft lights, opulent fittings, comfy sofas and amazing décor. I want to live here! Payne is friendly and bright and not at all phased by having to face a crowd of 2500 Delirious? fans. After all, she's done this before. A little older and wiser, the singer/songwriter relishes the challenge of winning over audiences. You'd have thought with the bright lights shining in her face that even with a distracted audience, Kendall wouldn't be able to see anything. But you'd be wrong! Apparently the worst thing that can happen is seeing people chatting away in the front row and ignoring her singing. She's learnt not to be too bratty about it these days and anyway I inadvertently sabotage her set but more of that later!
The D:Boys arrive and I'm greeted with hugs and Martin Smith declares, "Mike Rimmer! The only interviewer to ever make me cry," as his greeting, referring to a recent conversation that we had. The guys are buoyant and excited about playing new material and can't wait for me to witness their new set. But who is going to be doing TobyMac's rap in the middle of "Solid Rock"? I'm told that it'll be a surprise! Hmmmm...
Out in the venue, the huge crowd are packed in and ready to go. Kendal steps into the spotlight and starts her set. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, some great songs and her strident passionate voice, she immediately has the crowd in the palm of her hand, chatting amiably and keeping the pace steady. It only slows when she plays the song I'd cheekily requested backstage. Kendal dedicates "Scratch" to me but the crowd is restless during this quieter reflective song. Shame! And then she's off!
The band burst onto stage but it's awhile before Martin actually talks to the crowd, preferring to let the band's music make its impact. These songs have already won the hearts of this church crowd with "Rain Down" prompting mass singing and leaping up and down. The band play seven songs from 'The Mission Bell' including "Solid Rock" where Martin chooses not to do the rap in the middle in a London style but pretends to phone up TobyMac and hold his mobile up to the microphone while Mac's recorded rap is dropped into the song.
One of the crowd offers Martin some Pringles and he takes some and tells the crowd that such an act of generosity would never happen down south, immediately winning the hearts of these northerners. "History Maker" is one of the few older songs that are played tonight and still sounds glorious and inspiring. "Now Is The Time" is upbeat and again prompts much leaping about and crowd singalongs. It's evident that the new songs are immediately finding resonance with the Delirious? fanbase as one of the most impacting moments of the night was "Miracle Maker" where Martin introduces the number, telling the crowd about how the band wrote and recorded the song in one evening in the studio. As usual Martin introduces his band mates with special mention for Stu G's psychedelic trousers.
The crowd seem more at home and more familiar with the newer material
than the older so that a near riot takes place when the band launch
into "Paint The Town Red", this short, punky, energetic number turning
into a rallying call for those who are planning on taking the Gospel
onto the streets. It's like "Revival Town" for a new generation.
Throughout the gig, the lyrics for the band's songs are projected onto
screens bringing back memories of the Cutting Edge gigs when the band
would play hit and run gigs across the country. The passion seems to
have gone up a level and these days the band are playing with even
more fervour than their younger selves, realising that their music
might never make the charts but the hearts that are changed in front
of them as they play make it all worthwhile.
At one point Smith crowd surfs as he steps into the crowd to challenge us and to read a Scripture. However, with the lack of light he struggles to read his paper. He hesitates before admitting he can't read it. In the nick of time, a roadie appears with a torch! The evening is over too quickly and all too soon, Martin is sitting at the piano singing "Every Little Thing" encouraging the crowd to use their mobile phones to call friends to let them hear the song.
'The Mission Bell' marks the moment when the band rediscovered their passion for inspiring a new generation to be world changers. Judging by the success of this gig, they're enjoying reaching a younger audience and the band have never sounded better.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.