There are 25 members of the Polyphonic Spree – an 11 piece choir and a 14 piece orchestra. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the first few gigs they did in London, one of which was at the Monarch, were a little cramped. But this is the first time I’ve seen them perform on a stage big enough to carry the sheer weight of be-robed exuberance that is the Spree.
Leaping onstage to rapturous applause, they soar like glittering white doves into song. Tim Delaughter comes out moments later, running between his numerous bandmates to the front of the stage, where with arms stretched wide, joyfully crucified under the strong white lights of BrixtonAcademy, he greets the crowd.
They are clearly not your average band – and were it not for the lack of pretension and Delaughter’s long history of failed but sometimes memorable music forays, the cult-like spectacle would seem something of a gimmick. Instead it leaves a revitalising minty-fresh feeling.
When I looked down from the balcony into the sea of gently swaying figures below, I had to wonder why it had taken this long to come. When the music industry is rapidly turning into a stagnant mire of re-hashed riffs and stolen melodies, soporific trash and souless gesturing, the Spree are a breath of mountain range air.
An extended version of The Sun lent a feeling of unabandoned pleasure, with the crowd singing ‘ba da dum ba dum, ba da dum ba dum’ over and over, clapping excitedly but in time and following Delaughters’ every request without hesitation. We Londoners may be jaded and spoilt – but for once we allowed ourselves to look like complete idiots, without the sneers that would scratch a lesser group’s veneer.
Soldier Girl got the screams and smiles it deserved and also carried on for a little longer than the album version. Not one person neglected their sing-along obligation – including myself.
The Spree seem to love playing live. They cavort about the stage like demented apostles lost in revelation and divine epiphany, ending the show with an enormous encore that the audience had to scream, clap and shout for.
Delaughter has found his retribution and his salvation in the most unlikely of places – the belief that everybody really does love each other and that all they need is a little reminder. He and his followers are happy to give it to you while just happening to make exhilarating, charming, humbling music that never fails to brighten even the most blinding of summer days. Hallelujah.