The Guildhall, Southampton, 11th October 2006 gig review by Dave Griffiths
It was clear from the choice of support act that the D team are back into church focus. Having seen Delirious? on their last four UK tours I was anticipating another evening of anointed music which is, perhaps un-surprisingly, exactly what I was in for. Southampton is a place of significance to Delirious? as it is, in comparison with the 25 odd countries they've played this year alone, positively local to their native Littlehampton. The old Guildhall had sold out of tickets and the place was packed with an impressive multitude of age-groups for such a loud rock band. Many friends and family members were also present, making this a special night for the five brothers of D.
It was clear from the terrific cheer as he took the stage that Tim Hughes was going to be a successful warm up for the main act. I found it a pleasant surprise that Tim had made an effort with his band to look the part. All were sporting black shirts which were worn open, except Mr Hughes who had a subtle but (I think) pretty cool black tie on. Everyone knows that Tim Hughes doesn't do "gigs" as such, but looks to lead people into worship. From the first verse of set opener "Almighty God", this aim was achieved as hands were raised aloft all over the hall. Next up was Matt Redman's "Dancing Generation" and the buoyant participation of the crowd cracked a smile from Hughes' sometimes slightly wooden face. The third song was new to me and, I would judge, most of the audience. This was soon enough rectified by the almost over-familiar refrains of "Beautiful One", which had old and young singing and clapping along, many lost in worship. It was one worldwide hit after another as "Light Of The World" was brought in by soft and sensitive keyboard playing. The arrangement of this song had clearly been thought about as it built to a point where all the band came crashing in to lift the chorus high, taking many with it into the presence of God.
Next was "Be My Everything", which for me was the highlight of Tim's set. The simple words and music were a perfect backdrop for some moving scenes of corporate worship, turning an audience into a congregation. It was a few runs through the chorus of "Our God Is An Awesome God" that seemed to bring the whole room together in adoration of our King. There's no denying that Hughes knows how to lead a huge crowd of people into worship. He kept his cool as usual, not speaking much, but not needing to. The set ended with one of his newer songs; "Happy Day" is what I'll risk a guess that it's called. Lots of jumping, happy Christians everywhere. Yes, he's nicked other songwriters' ideas again (see also "Joy Is In This Place"), but it'll probably do very well. All in all, it was a right move for Delirious? to align themselves with church culture by putting Tim on the bill.
After a brief presentation about the work of Hope HIV and a mass donation made through text-messages, a big black linen curtain appeared, screening the stage. Crew busied themselves readying the stage for the band to come. When the houselights dimmed, a roar went up and that eerie sound of an air-raid siren began. Lights flashed around madly. Just visible through the linen, five men lined up dressed in individually tailored white suits. The curtain dropped and the smiling faces of Delirious? beamed out at the capacity crowd, dressed like bizarre superheroes. Some may say they've never looked better. Some may say they've never looked worse! Positions were taken, weapons of choice were chosen. "Good Evening Southampton"; that familiar Martin Smith twang. "Here I am, send me - SING IT". Already the audience were engaged. "Rain Down"; even at the second song I knew they still have "it" because the 14 year old lad in front on me kept bouncing onto my toes. "Fires Burn" featured, as most of the songs did that night, visuals with all the lyrics. There was some great syncopation of song dynamics and on-screen explosions on this song. Martin used a megaphone for the rap in "Solid Rock". "Now Is The Time" is proving itself to be a classic D tune already with scorching solo and epic lyrics. "Our God Reigns" featured another incredible solo from Stu G that seemed to be played straight from his spirit; a moment of raw emotion in a sometimes slightly predictable set.
There were moments of that spontaneous edge that I have often seen Delirious? take to amazing places, but, on the whole, not much of it tonight. "History Maker" sported the best visuals. I did, during this brilliant song, wonder whether they were about to break into "With Or Without You" by U2 or their mate Redman's "Blessed Be". If that three major and one minor chord sequence is used in any more worship songs, I think I shall scream! Speaking of U2, "Paint The Town Red" was, for me at least, just like a pastiche of "Vertigo". You've got to wonder sometimes whether Delirious? listen to much else! It was at this point that men in black t-shirts began to assemble a bank of five mini-keyboards all attached to a long plank of wood. Martin, Stu G, Stew, Tim and Jon all took their place behind it, rather resembling a better-looking Kraftwerk. Martin went on to explain that the 'B-stage' part in a D set is something they like to experiment with. Soon enough he had pressed a button that began a wonderful little drum loop. The band proceeded to play a short medley of "The Happy Song" and "Revival Town", each playing their corresponding parts on the little keyboards. It was a brilliant move, Delirious? sounding like music to a Mega-Drive game that demonstrated the light-hearted, fun side of the band that makes them so special. Back to the big instruments for "Metamorphis", a very welcome number from 'Mezzamorphis' (my favourite D album). Next was "Take Off My Shoes", a standout track from 'The Mission Bell' which sounded just huge, a very moving song indeed. Then, another good idea - a rendition of "Majesty" without the backing track, revealing the true potential of this song. A short reprise into "Paint." and off they went. Of course, a short while later they were back for the encore to give us "All This Time" and "Stronger". The crowd were enraptured.
All in all I came away thanking God for raising these guys up to lead us into worship and into warfare. There's no denying they're on top of their music at the moment and in a really healthy place. They're writing, recording and performing songs that challenge the Church and not many other bands are doing that. Musically, they were very tight indeed and are clearly still enjoying their music. It's very hard to imagine a world without Delirious? and they are a big asset to the Kingdom. I did wonder though where Delirious? will go next?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.