Delays – Live at Academy 3, Manchester. 08/10/2010

Review by Denise Tench

In a city that sets its watch by the academic season and where fads come and go with the next uni term, it’s hard for all but the most stalwart bands to hold a place in Manchester’s psyche. That’s why, to some extent, it’s quite a feat that Delays, whose debut album ‘Faded Seaside Glamour’ was many a fresher’s soundtrack in 2004, are six years later taking the stage at the student union’s Academy 3.

On the other hand however, it’s hardly surprising at all – the band have delivered consistent success with a back-catalogue of arresting tracks, by maintaining their fresh-faced skinny indie boy look and by having a tendency not to over-expose themselves, both in terms of touring and unveiling new material.

In today’s chart climate of samey male-dominated guitar-led bands, front man Greg Gilbert continues to stand apart in a live capacity with his instantly recognisable high-pitched vocals, while the band’s trademark twinkly synth sounds move in different directions seeking new ground.

However, old fans who invest in a Delays gig ticket will be pleased that ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Long Time Coming’, ‘Valentine’, ‘You Wear the Sun’ all put in an appearance and sound as good as they ever did.

On stage, definite highlights from latest release ‘Star Tiger, Star Ariel’ include the cosmic, almost orchestral title track, ‘May 45’ and the hit-worthy ‘Unsung’ – all of which possess the confident beats and assertive melodies that give Gilbert’s voice the platform it needs.

There are other, less memorable tracks nestled within the band’s catalogue, but with a great live sound and full marks for onstage effort, none of these still ever come close to dull. However, it is songs that follow in the aforementioned assertive vein – such as ‘Valentine’, ‘Hey Girl’ and ‘Lost in a Melody’ that reveal Delays at their finest.

Celestial, glittery and never afraid to shine a candle into an unexplored cave – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a live act as original as Delays.

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