Delamere Live at Magnet: A Review
Delamere played in the basement of Magnet on Friday night, at the end of a week’s touring. They talked in our interview about their live shows being much more guitar-led than their studio work, and you could immediately see what they meant – as far as I could tell, they didn’t even touch their keyboard until the fifth song. I like it when bands use live shows to try new approaches to their music, and the singles that I recognised came out of the process pretty well, especially the intro to Heart, which had been stripped back to Rich and Ash’s guitars softly chiming over Will and Fitch drumming.
That said, “guitar-led” often just seemed to mean cranking the reverb pedal up as far as they could without the government intervening. That’s not a shocking departure from their studio material, but in the singles I’d heard the reverb was kept at a fairly well-behaved level. On Friday night, however, they piled it on hard, hosing us with it like an experimental riot control device. I hope I don’t make that sound like a bad thing – at its best, such as in the gig’s final song, Betty Boop, it was an absolute rush, with the three guitars almost pushing you back like a wind tunnel – but it is a style that needs some fine-tuning. A couple of times the howling of the speakers ended up sucking the air out of a song, drowning out the lyrics and the melody and ending up deafening you without adding the substance to justify it.
Even while the whole room was swimming in feedback, however, the drumming stood out as the set’s most impressive feature. Will, the drummer, didn’t make too great an impression while I was researching the band and was all but silent in the interview, but during the show he absolutely destroyed. I probably missed out on a fair amount of what the other three were doing while I was gawping at Will, trying to figure out how to put his playing into words, and to be honest I’m still not sure that I’ll manage. He leant back from the drum kit as he played, snapping his sticks back almost all the way before whipping them in again. The actual rhythm he was playing was excellent, too – fast, like he was holding two fans, but more intricate than blistering. I don’t know anywhere near enough about drumming to tell you whether this is a particularly novel way to play, but it was mesmerising to watch and worth the price of a ticket in itself.
In their three years playing together, Delamere have developed a solid live show. It has some rough edges to it, but I’m very interested to see how they go about refining these. Personally, I hope that they gain the confidence in their more electronic material to make the jump to the stage – something like the pulse of All of This or the almost-disco thump of their cover of So Good To Me would add welcome variety to the set, and I would love to see how they would translate into a live performance. If they can build on the energy of this set’s high points, however, then whichever route they go down can only take them further up.
Image Credit: Leek Post & Times