The Union Chapel, Upper Street, London N1
It’s so hard to put your finger on what makes a great performance. You see and hear it, right in front of you, but defining what it is exactly that elevates the playing of the songs you’re hearing from being merely good to the absolutely brilliant is immensely difficult.
There is a focus and intensity, building on the foundation of great songs. There is togetherness among the band members and a togetherness between the performers and the audience – a bond between us all; from us in the audience to them on the stage that further elevates things.
It’s certainly nothing to do with theatricality, though I guess showmanship is a different thing – it’s that ability to communicate the music and the lyrics.
Certainly there is little theatricality from The Delines, yet for this performance my eyes were riveted to the stage and my concentration was total and my enjoyment was unbounded. This was a great, great performance. One of the very best gigs I’ve been to for many years. One of the best I’ve been to in my life.
I only discovered The Delines earlier this year. I’d never heard Colfax, their first album, but I discovered and love The Imperial. I was surprised to find they were founded upon the remains of Richmond Fontaine, a band that I’d seen and had a couple of CDs by. A band I quite liked but didn’t revere, unlike others who appreciate cosmic American music.
The set is largely drawn from their two albums Colfax and The Imperial, but other songs include the new single Eight Floors Up, a track from the limited bonus CD from Imperial and Willy Vlautin’s Kill Switch.
The thing with The Delines is they simply create a gorgeous sound. Amy Boone’s vocals are truly soulful and deeply moving while the band (Willy Vlautin on guitar, Cory Gray on keyboards and trumpet, Sean Oldham on drums and David Little on bass, plus a gut whose name I criminally forget on pedal steel) are totally sympatico with her. At the end I said to SteveT, who was with me, that they are like Free insofar as they make a virtue out of being almost completely one paced and the sound they create, which in no way is going to be labelled innovative or revolutionary, is totally theirs.
I loved this gig. Close to 48 hours since it finished I’m still buzzing with it. I’ve been playing their music more or less non-stop on repeat.
You may disagree with me. You probably will. However I feel confident in asserting that at present The Delines are probably the best band in the world.
I think everyone else loved them just as much as me.
It made me think..
I think I’ve explained my thoughts. Although I suppose I should add, while The Union Chapel was completely sold out, I suspect with their upward trajectory they will be playing bigger venues next time they visit the UK.