Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Delgados @ Concorde 2, Brighton

20 January 2023

Prodigal Glaswegians return after a hiatus of seventeen years with a truly wondrous and magical show

The Delgados (Photo: Eva Vermandel)

The Delgados (Photo: Eva Vermandel)

It wasn’t a starting pistol that set off the exquisite, and long awaited, return of The Delgados, after a lengthy seventeen year hiatus, rather it was a gently lilting flute melody and some amicable jangly guitar. An affectionate shout of “What kept ya?” from someone close to the stage, prompted a beaming Emma Pollock to offer sincere thank yous to everyone for coming down, and as they began the tender intro of Everything Goes Around The Water, it was soon obvious that it wasn’t Emma, guitarist Alun Woodward or the rest of the band who should be expressing gratitude, rather it was those of us who got to witness something truly wondrous and unexpectedly magical.

The evening was destined to be memorable as it started on an otherworldly high with a seductive performance from fellow Scot, kindred spirit and longtime friend of the headliners Andrew Wasylyk, whose jazzy poetics provided a warming tonic to soothe the nerves of those literally coming in from the cold.

Defying any and all expectation, the prodigal Glaswegians generously graced us with twenty one tracks that ran all the way from their very first seven inch, the youthful Monica Webster (AKA release numero uno on their now legendary label Chemikal Underground), through to the heart worn inhalations of Come Undone from their final album 2004’s Universal Audio. It’s hard to believe that in just under a decade they matured from snarky upstarts to lushly orchestrated indie godheads before disappearing. It’s taken the Fannies slogging away for three times that long to achieve something resembling the same result.

Twenty five, thirty years is a long time to hold on to muscle memory. And so, when Alun kept speaking into the wrong mic or mangling the intro of Child Killers and when Emma confessed her fears of forgetting lyrics and disappointing the crowd, we all felt implored to reach out and tell them we still love them unconditionally just for being back in our lives and yearned to remind them that they can do no wrong. For they honestly couldn’t. Everything was just about perfect. Except Emma’s hypnotically expressive voice is now perhaps the teensiest bit more coarse, meaning that moments like that subtly devastating opening verse of Make Your Move and the triumphant Pull The Wires From The Wall feel even more honest and induced a tsunami of goosebumps and caused grown adults to quietly weep.

A furiously spontaneous Under Canvas Under Wraps, from debut record Domestiques, midway through the show, and a boisterous All You Need I Hate turned an army of forty year olds into giddy teenagers again. Whoever mixed the sound should have taken home the gold, as the band sounded better even than on record, every guitar line perfectly crisp, every lyric impeccably annunciated and clear, even when being sung through a distorted mic.

Thankful not only for being back playing again and for the fans support, but for getting some of those original instrumental players from back in the day to come on tour, the evening was an unapologetic bacchanal of sympathy, maturity and kindness. One heckler asked if the group had any new songs and we were given a tantalising tease that maybe we will get to see some new material in the near future. But for now, their reassuring presence was a reminder that sometimes the past can be a beautiful place to return to.

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