The biggest thing ever to happen to UK Christian music are those Littlehampton wonders, DELIRIOUS? Here they talk to Mike Rimmer about their new live album, their warts and all video and their assault on the American music scene.
The De Motfort Hall in Leicester is buzzing as Delirious? bring the '98 version of the D Tour to town. Cathy Burton from Blueberry stands vulnerable on the stage. Without the rest of her band and with only an acoustic guitar and her enigmatic powerful voice as defence against the crowd waiting in anticipation for their heroes, she handles the tricky business of being a support act with great dignity, quieting the crowd's conversations with the beauty of her songs. Definitely one to watch!
Backstage it's business and banter as usual! From the moment I meet the band it's clear that their trips to America are having a lasting influence! Folliclly challenged keyboard player Tim Jupp is losing weight! His secret? A rather strange American diet book which allows him to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast and still loose weight! As for drummer Stewart Smith, his appearance is radically altered too. Our hair is going in opposite directions. I am growing mine (giving rise to Tim christening me "Tufty". I of course respond by calling him "Baldy".), and Stewart's was cut at 7am in a Nashville salon! Strangely he confesses that it was, for a short time, coloured red! Doesn't bare considering does it?
Onstage the band unveil a pair of new songs from their forthcoming album which is being meticulously recorded during '98 for release next year. The new songs are well received and indicate that the band's U2 influences are coming through strongly on the new material. There are some new videos to accompany the live songs and the entire set is slightly scaled down technologically, from the previous leg of the tour. Some of the older material has been revamped and given new life including a powerful chunky version of "Louder Than The Radio" which has been included on the American version of 'King Of Fools'. There are some nice moments, for an encore a huge white sheet is dropped over the front of the stage and the band's shadows are projected onto it from the rear of the stage. Martin's image almost fills the sheet as he sings a revised version of "Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble" but true to form, to one side Stuey G and Jon Thatcher engage in their own fun, throwing humorous shapes like naughty schoolboys.
The Live Delirious? experience has recently been captured on a budget priced CD alongside the one hour video 'View From The Terraces'. The CD wasn't originally in the frame as Martin Smith explains. "We originally just recorded the gig to have a soundtrack to the video, but the songs came out so well we thought, 'Well I'm sure people will appreciate just having these out on a CD', and we played well that night. So we picked the best tunes and I'm really pleased with it, for what it is."
Tim elaborates, "We've tried to keep it a little low-key really, and pushed it as a souvenir for those people who were on the tour, it's not really a 'Live In The Car' No.2, because that was recorded over a long period of time and it captured a whole era of what we were doing. This album does really capture what went on during the D:Tour.
Martin reflects about the D:Tour. "I think just being in those venues was what did it for me - not necessarily the size of the crowds, but being in those venues, like Shepherds Bush Empire, and the Manchester Academy. I think it was just an encouragement to us that we could pack out those places and get our D:Crowd in there. I remember the Manchester gig was just thick with atmosphere and God was there and the crowd were up for it; and then there were other nights when you get a different crowd of people in and it changes the emphasis. Every night was different and Shepherds Bush in London was different because it was a London crowd, and a little bit more 'come to watch'. None of them were bad though.
Stu Garrard remembers, "We'd been traveling around the country for the 18 months previously to that, so what was really nice was to go to the bigger venues, to do a shorter stint of time, but playing to just as many people. I think some of the highlights for me would be walking out in front of that big video screen and starting 'Sanctify' and just seeing so many people that we'd seen from the couple of years previous all turning up - it was a good moment".
The 'View From The Terraces' video captures the heart of Delirious? From the on stage performances to some of the stranger moments of being a rock'n'roll band. Tim explains some of the thinking behind the video. "We've always wanted to do a video and it's quite a big job really. We wanted to do it well, so it's taken its time coming. But we're really excited and it's come out, not just showing the D:Tour, it's got footage from that, but also backstage stuff from the last year and it's quite humorous in places - I think, it shows us as we really are".
The video shows some interesting clips of Martin getting his hair done. Tim laughs, "We've really bared all, not in a literal sense, but I think we've let our guard down a little bit here." There's a wonderful clip where Martin fluffs up an interview on television. Tim again explains, "We were doing a TV interview and he was trying to describe what he thought Delirious? were like - "and it was exciting...etc...etc.", and the little out-take is of the interviewer telling him off for not saying "exciting" in the most excited way."
It seems that Martin is the brunt of a lot of the video's humour! Tim enthuses with glee, "You can actually find out that Martin does dye his hair, contrary to popular belief, that it naturally has golden streaks in it!" He laughs again, "Yeah, there's a few little give-aways on the video." Martin takes all of this in his stride! Does it mean that we're going to get Martin Smith's hair secrets I wonder? "Well there aren't many secrets to be honest," he grins, "but you might get a little glimpse into me looking very, very stupid."
The bulk of the work of putting the video together fell to Stu Smith and Jon Thatcher who heroically spent long hours putting it together. Stu Smith explains, "It's the first time we've put a video together so we really didn't have too much idea! It was a long, long job and we'd allowed two weeks but we did a month's worth of work! We were there editing in London arriving at nine o'clock in the morning and the earliest we left was 11 at night. One day we finished at 6.30 in the morning! We definitely breathed a sigh of relief when it was all completed! We're so pleased with it because it really does capture what it's like to experience Delirious? in a live gig. It's exciting for us to capture that excitement on video and for people to stick that in their VCR at home, press the play button and really experience it in their front room and to be able to use that video as a resource to play to mates, school mates, college mates, work mates, whatever! I think it's a great product, we're really proud of it."
Having spent so many long hours working on it, I wondered what Stewart's favourite moment could be? "It's a bit of an in joke," Stewart laughs, "it's when Craig Borlase, our writer guy responds when the crew were doing vox pops in the foyer at Southampton and he pretends to be from Belgium." 'View From The Terraces' aptly has footage of the band's memorable performance of "Sanctify" at Champion Of The World. Watching the video, it is difficult not to be deeply moved by the spirit of the event and the passion of the performance. Over a year later, I asked what memories the band had of the day? Stu Garrard responded, "It was a great day - we were really looking forward to it - Noel Richards is a good friend of ours, and we wanted to support him and back him right up with that. And of course, that doesn't take anything away from the fact that a chance to play at Wembley Stadium is a very exciting thing! And again, we were so surprised to see so many people that we'd seen around the country show up and just really get into our set, and it was just a part of a great day."
It's the biggest crowd the band have played to so were they nervous before went on? Stu explains, "I'm not sure whether nervous is the right word - it was just so incredibly exciting - so full of adrenaline." Memorably, as the video testifies, the five men of Delirious? were suitably attired in football kit with spoof names on their shirts but there was one mystery. Why did all the shirts have a number five on the back? Tim Jupp goes all mysterious on me and says "That's an interesting question that we often get asked - we have no idea why '5' is associated with Delirious? and why it's in our name." Stu helpfully chips in, "I think it's simply a design thing that a '5' looks a little bit like an 'S', and if anyone wants to think anything else, then send your suggestions in."
Not sure whether it's worth inundating Delirious? with postcards because you never know when they might read your correspondence from the stage during the famous sofa section of their sizzling set. Tonight in Leicester there is more banter with fans, letters but no fruit and no standard lamp! This was no surprise as I had spotted the lamp looking a little forlorn and worse for wear in the makeshift studio where the band are currently recording!
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