Monday, November 30, 2009


Here follows a review of Delirious – over that last 17 years and also their farewell tour gig in Leeds on 28th November 2009.

Delirious were one of the first bands I was ever into, about 12-13 years ago. I have followed them avidly for the last decade and a bit, buying all their studio albums and seeing them several times in concert. They are one of my elite circle of six favourite bands, their song My Glorious features on my list of ‘contenders for greatest song of all time’ and their album Glo is in my top ten albums ever. I really like Delirious.

Several things make them great:
  • Their longevity – they have been at the forefront of the Christian Rock genre for about 15 years, to a certain extent carrying that flag single-handedly, in that no-one else seems to have got close to them in terms of popularity and sheer volume of music produced.
  • Popularity – they are much loved and almost universally respected amongst Christians, and they even broke America.
  • Quality and quantity – their songs are just really, really good My Glorious is their best (no arguments please), but following this masterpiece are dozens more top quality songs. Including the Cutting Edge stuff (from before they changed the name to Delirious), they have release 9 full-length studio albums, plus two alternative release of Audio Lessonover, plus six live albums and 3 compilations.
  • Live act – they are excellent live performers, and their shows are always both exciting and moving. I think Martin Smith might be the best front man I have seen.
  • Variety – from the Cutting Edge worship songs to the alternative rock of Audio Lessonover. From Promise to What A Friend I’ve Found, in one album.

One thing makes them less great:
  • In concert, they have never convincingly trodden the line between worship leaders and rock stars. They can do worship leaders. They can do rock stars. But they have never managed to combine the two and make it work in concert.

It was of course sad news that Delirious were to finish as a band at the end of 2009, and there was no way I would have missed the farewell tour. Tickets were booked back in about July, and the excitement mounted as 19 of us headed to Leeds for their penultimate gig. Before going, I displayed a moment of weakness and went online to find review of the previous four gigs in the tour. All four were similar but with slight differences each night. And none of them included My Glorious. Of course, that could change, but I didn’t want to get my hope up. Anyway, here comes the set list, with comments.

First: The Cutting Edge band, playing a worship set.
Live and In the Can intro – this was fairly standard, just helped to build the excitement
Not Ashamed – cracking opener, got the crowd (at least the ones who were old enough to remember this song) bouncing.
Louder than the Radio – very unexpected, but very cool live. Great singalongs in the choruses.
The Happy Song – against their better judgement, having vowed to never play it again, but it went down well. Much fun.
Shout to the North – another great singalong – this was Delirious leading worship, and they are good at it.
Thankyou for Saving Me – with a nice intro from Martin about when he wrote it.
White Ribbon Day (chorus only) – a song I desperately wanted to hear in full, and one that didn’t really fit here, both because it is by Delirious, not the Cutting Edge band, and because of the worshipful atmosphere in the room at the time.
Over the mountains and the sea – very good, mainly because, once the stupid middle 8 is removed (they removed it), it’s a good song.
Did you feel the mountains tremble – the full version, excellent!
Dance in the river – superb move by the band, with the classic intro from Access:D, got everyone jumping.
There is a light – beautifully done
The Lord’s Prayer – standard outro, mirroring the Live and in the Can intro.

Highlights from this set were Not Ashamed, Thankyou for saving me, Did you feel the mountains tremble and, the best of the lot, Dance in the river.

Next: Delirious.
All this time (chorus only) – I don’t think anyone in the world would have predicted this. Nice though.
Bliss – Delirious only ever open with a handful of songs, so this was no surprise. Classic Stu G guitar opening, into the full song.
God is Smiling – other than My Glorious, possibly the one song I was keenest to see, and my favourite of the latest album. As soon as I heard the riff, I think I screamed.
My Glorious – at this point I nearly fell over in shock because I didn’t think they were going to play it. God is Smiling into My Glorious was almost too much for me to take! And of course, it was amazing.
Solid Rock – I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of this song (especially after My Glorious), but it is better live than on the album, and it was quite good this time.
It’s OK – another straight out of left field, but beautifully moving. A superb performance which brought the energy levels down a bit.
Sanctify – complete with the football shirts from Wembley 1996, genius. I’ve never seen this one live before, so it was good to see their very first song once.
Obsession – controversially in the Delirious set, and sadly not as epic as it usually is. I’m not sure why. Still great though, with everyone singing the guitar solo.
King of Fools – Stu G solo, alone on the stage, playing the Access:D version. Pretty good, but not as good as most of the rest.
Rain Down – I couldn’t believe they pus this so late in the set (it’s normally first or second), but it worked and re-energised the crowd. Possibly the biggest singalong of the night.
Deeper – genius combination following Rain Down – two of their biggest hits, from very different time periods. Sadly no-one under about 18 seemed to know this one. Gutting.
Paint the town red – another Mission Bell song that gains a lot when done live. Still slightly outrageous that it got a better reception than Deeper though. Good performance though, very well done.
Jesus Blood – another one I’ve never seen live, and another great performance of an excellent song. The lighting was particularly spectacular in this one.
True Colours (chorus only) – I could not believe my ears. I’ve paid £18.50 to see Delirious one last time, and they play a cover?! The cheek of it! I don’t even like the song! I was not impressed.
Majesty – dangerous move, because it’s so worshippy, but they got away with it, just. Great singing from the crowd.
Our God Reigns (chorus only) – fair play to them, it’s a brilliant, brilliant refrain. Good to see it live one last time.
Investigate – Standard closer, performed magnificently. No more words.

Kingdom of Comfort – interesting choice for an encore, but not one that made me unhappy. Really good performance from the band.
Stare the monster down – a waste of an encore slot to be honest. The crowd weren’t that into it and there would have been better song to put in here (e.g. White Ribbon Day, Heaven, Everything, Years Go By, Take me Away, God in Heaven, Feel It Coming On, Love Will Find a Way, Wonder). Biggest mistake in the set list (apart from the aforementioned unmentionable)
History Maker – predictable, but nonetheless excellent, with great screen graphics

My Soul Sings – another encore, and another song that is ok, but not one of their best, but which is always better live. Decent ending.

God is Smiling into My Glorious
Rain Down and Deeper
Also, the lighting and visuals were really, really good.

Songs I’d like to have seen: the ones mentioned with Stare the Monster Down, especially Heaven. Also Find me in the River and All I want is You in the Cutting Edge set.

One last thing – after the lights came up at the end, they played ‘Always look on the bright side of life) over the sound system. Seriously, why would you play such an annoying and addictive song after a gig. Je ne suis pas impressed.

My latest attempt to rank the studio albums:
World Service
King of Fools
Kingdom of Comfort/Mezzamorphis (joint, off the top of my head)
Audio Lessonover/Mission Bell (also joint)

A more considered blog of my top ten Delirious songs might follow.

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