Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Delays / 51 Breaks / Jamie Clayton @ The Glee Club, Tuesday 5th October 2010

How’s this for a delay? I’ve waited nearly 6 years to see this band play live. Like ships in the night we’ve missed each other over the years (sold out gigs, clashing dates, me being a lazy ass) but tonight, with Jupiter in Uranus, Mercury rising and all sorts of other shit aligned I finally got to witness their peerless pop majesty for myself.

First up though, to ease us gently into the evening, local singer songwriter Jamie Clayton. Echoes of the ghost of Jeff Buckley flavoured a deeply personal and raw set stuffed to the brim with a clutch of well written, emotionally honest songs. Look out for his debut album in the near future.

In stark contrast to the pared down sound of JC, next up it’s the flamboyant tunage of 51 Breaks. Opening with some kind of orchestral theme tune (played on an i-Pod...somehow I don’t think the Glee Club stage would cope with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) 51 Breaks are masters of anthemic synth tinged pop. I’ve seen ‘em a few times before and they never cease to entertain. Kicking off with the pleading ‘Words Regarding’ pretty much every track that followed was instantly hummable, with picks of the pops being Tunnels and, in my humble opinion their strongest number, Occams Razor (which still ain’t up on their MySpace page...doh!).

Time for Southhampton’s finest, Delays. Coming on stage with a cheery “Hello Birmingham” some bright spark in the audience responded “But this is Manchester”. Cue a moment of slight panic as lead singer Greg mentally checked that he was in the right place. Well, this venue is also a comedy club after all. Witty banter aside, at the heart of the band’s sound is Greg’s ball bursting falsetto vocals which were in fine form tonight as the opening number ‘Girl’s On Fire’ proved. Combined with brother Aaron’s voice they instantly brought to mind the vocal alchemy of Fleetwood Mac’s Buckingham / Nicks partnership, a comparison that’s strengthened by the material, soaring pop rock with a slightly dreamy quality. It’s intoxicating stuff and, judging by the people that surrounded me (who seemed to know every single word –and I mean EVERY single word – of every single track...that’s rare at any gig) Delays fans are a devoted bunch. Tonight’s set, which dipped into their critically acclaimed back catalogue of four albums (from 2004’s ‘Faded Seaside Glamour’ through to this year intriguingly named ‘Star Tiger, Star Ariel’) gave them plenty to appreciate.

Of course one of the strengths of the band’s music (the whole dreaminess thing) can sometimes be a weakness if you’re not familiar with all of the tracks and, once or twice, I found the pace (and my attention) drift slightly. But then they pull it back with some of the best pop tracks of the last 20 years and all is forgiven. In fact when they get it right Delays nail it better than most. The pairing of ‘Nearer Than Heaven’ and ‘Valentine’ towards the end of the set was instant pop fix as powerful as a shot of adrenaline to the left ventricle. Nearer Than Heaven’s a shimmering jewel of a track, the simple musical arrangement acting as the perfect backdrop for Greg’s angelic vocals. No less effective, but a different beast altogether, Valentine’s driving synth beats and choppy guitars inspired some frantic leaping up and down from the super fans. Nursing a torn stomach muscle (yeah...bench pressing 1500lbs again) I was restricted to some vigorous head nodding. Elsewhere in the set current single ‘Unsung’ neatly blended the dream pop vibe with a rockier element, ‘Wanderlust’ added a slightly Caribbean feel courtesy of that steel drum sample (at least it sounds like steel drum to me) and ‘Friends Are False’ gave the band a chance to reveal their more vitriolic side.

Chatty and at ease with the whole performance the band even found time to pay homage to one man and his moustache. Serves me right for standing at the front. They were very complimentary though. Aaron revealed that he’d tried to grow one but it just ended up as bum fluff. I encouraged him to stick with if everyone in the band ends up with handlebar ‘taches I’m the one to blame.

Doubtless if Delays had packed it all in after their first album I reckon they’d now be held in far greater esteem (a la The La’s and The Stone Roses...yes I know they made a second album but let’s not go there eh?). As it is we lucky people still have a chance to enjoy some of the most sublime pop hits of the last 20 years for ourselves. Was it worth the six year wait? Hell yeah. Now that's what I call Delays-ed gratification.


Shaaron said...

Great review! I realised who you were when you mentioned the moustache in the review as I served you on the Merch stall. Fancy a trip to London tonight? It will be every bit as wonderful! :-)

The Baron said...

Cheers Shaaron! Sadly can't make it tonight...but hope I won't have to wait another six years to see them again!

PS: The live CD's ace too. Love the fingerprint idea. Must be easier than signing them all...a bit messier though I guess!?

tomrankin said...

Ahhh so you must be the "hirsute" gentlemen conversing with the Delays!! I was impressed!

Just to update you on the 51 Breaks bits and bobs...Occams Razor has been recorded and may well be within the public domain pretty soon...

...and the orchestral piece was Ecstasy of Gold by the fabulous Ennio Morricone. The actual track played throughout the Mexican Standoff at the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

Thanks for the review! Once again, welcome praise :-D

brave sir phillip said...

Hey, great review! I remember you, I was with my wife to the right of you, we were the two 'superfans' who were bouncing from the very beginning!! we've seen the delays several times since they first appeared and was great to see them in such a small venue, it really is the best place to see a band, great atmosphere in there! We loved 51 breaks too, they had a great sound, reminded me of Marion (if you or anyone remembers them!)
All the best
brave sir

P.S... amazing tashe

The Baron said...

Cheers Tom. Good to hear that the Razor's nearly ready to be unleashed! A cracking track. Another great set too.

Yep, I'm the one with the dodgy 'tache. A few bands have commented on it in their sets now.I'm on a one man mission to get everyone to grow one...even the ladies.

The Baron said...

Hello Brave Sir Phillip. Wow. Cool name. Now you're a man who could carry off a 'tache! Yep, The Glee's a great venue to see bands. They always have a decent and varied line up there too.

Hmmm I remember Marion. Not heard that name for years. They were around at the same time as Menswear and Gene weren't they? Ahhh happy days. You've inspired me to dig out my Dodgy, Pulp and Bluetones CD's now...remember Jocasta and My Life Story too? Good grief you've kicked something off here. I'll be going all misty eyed in a minute. Ha!

brave sir phillip said...

Ah Baron, now you're talking my language,those bands and more (super furry animals, warm jets, echobelly,speedy, 60ft dolls, bawl, longpigs...) its all part of my daily listening! most people seem to have forgotten britpop but its still my favorite genre, its sad that no one seems to remember shed seven or space, even though these bands ruled the charts for over half a decade!! I will forever be a Britpopper at heart!!