Funny old game, football. Greg Gilbert was once on Portsmouth FC’s books as a youth trainee but left after falling out with the manager. Now, Portsmouth are struggling to stay in the Premiership and Gilbert’s band Delays are about to release their second album.
Harry Redknapp’s loss is certainly the music world’s gain though. Delays (no definite article remember) rose to prominence in 2004 with the excellent Faded Seaside Glamour album which contained a couple of instant classics in Nearer To Heaven and Long Time Coming. It may not have been anything revolutionary, but Delays’ music very quickly found its loyal audience.
Now they’re back after a break of two years with a new sound that may raise an eyebrow or two. Before, they were the very definition of the jangly indie guitar band – these days, they’ve incorporated more synths and dance beat into their music, and the result is rather pleasing.
Wandering onto the Sheffield Leadmill’s stage to specially decorated microphone stands, multi-coloured backing lights and a massive Delays backdrop, there was a rather celebratory atmosphere to the evening and the band launched into Lost In A Melody, the first song that hinted at the band’s new direction.
The setlist was pretty evenly split between Faded Seaside Glamour and the forthcoming You See Colours, although the band’s loyal audience rewarded the newer material with a mighty roar. Lilian has a surprisingly muscular arrangement, while Out Of Nowhere was one of the highlights of the set and seems destined to be a future classic.
Older material such as Wanderlust and the sunny Hey Girl were greeted warmly, while everybody went politely wild for maybe the band’s best song, Long Time Coming. There was also a solo acoustic rendition of Bedroom Scene from Gilbert, which showed off that extraordinarily falsetto to its best advantage.
The rest of the band were on equal form, with Greg’s brother Aaron occasionally wandering out from behind his keyboard to gee up the crowd, and calling for a “big burly bouncer” to come to the stage when one unfortunate fan fainted in the melee at the front of the stage.
The band bravely opted to encore with two lesser known tracks from Faded Seaside Glamour in One Night Away and Stay Where You Are, but this didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm, and cries for a second encore went unheeded. Delays may never be one of those bands who provoke mass critical adoration but, rather like Starsailor, they do what they do very well indeed and, given the strength of the new material that they previewed tonight, the forthcoming album should see their popularity grow.