A new website for the much loved/ missed band The Delgados appeared in June last year with a statement. “ When we started The Delgados in 1994, it instantly felt effortless and simple...Fast forward 25 or so years ..and we're driving to Stuart Braithwaite's (from Mogwai) wedding (the Delgados run the record label Chemikal Underground to which Mogwai were signed for many years). We've spent hardly any time with each other for over a decade and like before it's effortless, simple....and the thought occurs that it might be good to play together once again”
Recollection of events will inevitably vary with age but thanks to a quick search rather than memories it was approximately 18 years, 3months and 16 days since I last walked along Leadmill Street in Sheffield to see The Delgados play live . After such a long time uncertainties arise concerning what tonight will bring.
Opening the set with 'Everything Goes Around The Water' and by the time the second track 'Accused of Stealing' is underway the four piece band with accompanying string quartet, flute and keyboards sound amazing. Those familiar sweeping melodies are right back on point and it does feel effortless and simple and absolutely wonderful.
After time trialling through a couple of tracks from second album 'Peloton' , joint lead vocalist and guitarist Emma Pollock plays the opening strummed chords to the stripped back, 'I Fought The Angels' at the end of which Emma says that this is the first night of the tour that they been for a pre-show meal rather than back stage sandwiches. Alun Woodward who is the other part of the lead vocals and guitars tag team reveals that Emma and Paul Savage, drummer and husband , were 40 minute late for the meal. The reason apparently being Emma attempting to put her on stage contact lenses in ,as she says “something that has changed in 18 years, my eyes” Another thing I note has changed is the choice of onstage liquid refreshment which tonight is bottled water, but I vividly recall one or more bottles of red being the choice 18 years ago.
'Aye Today' features Alun Woodward's softly-sung almost despairing vocal intro 'Songs sung out of key, Reminds me that I'm free, Feelings so strong that I can't carry on, Good night, sleep tight' the song builds through a waltz like chorus of gorgeous, sweeping melodies contrasting the dark lyrics typical of the Delgados' signature sound . 'Child Killers' features the lyrics "How can I find what's right?, The truth is our lives were shite'" which repeats the trick with a gentle lullaby contrasting the bleak themes.
The string quartet really shines during a stunning version of 'The Light Before We Land'. The track's huge, sweeping lines of strings accompanying lyrics of melancholy 'With site and sound becoming fragile, Don't you understand? When things that once were beautiful. Are bland' by the time the chorus hits "And when I feel like I can feel once again, Let me stay a while …... If we can hold on we can fix what is wrong, Buy a little time, For this head of mine'" grown men are reduced to tear-washed rubble (well certainly this one was anyway).
It's not all tear-wrenching lush melodies though. The Britpop- ish first single 'Monica Webster' is played during the four track encore, ' Under Canvas Under Wraps' has a frantic dash about it with a shouty chorus part for the audience and ' Everybody Come Down' is a great bouncy pop moment.
It's back to familiar musical territory as two majestic tunes finish the main set ; the magnificent 'All You Need Is Hate' and an anthemic 'If This Is A Plan' both from the 'Hate' album.
The encore includes a couple of tracks from the wonderful album 'The Great Eastern', which sits comfortably in any right-minded individual's collection alongside the very best of Scottish albums. A spectacular 'No Danger' which starts as barely a whisper and builds to anthemic controlled chaos , and the show finishes with Alun and Emma's call and response vocals on 'Thirteen Gliding Principles' which climaxes in wall of guitars and strings which wouldn't feel out of place at one of Metallica's orchestral S+M shows.
I have insufficient superlatives to describe how special tonight was and how good The Delgados sounded. Let's hope there are further nuptials of Chemikal Underground bands member's in the diary and this is a full-time return for The Delgados.