Friday the 28th of November 2014 was ‘Black Friday’ for many. Fortunately for me the main black in my Friday was being worn by the line of Delain fans waiting outside The Cathouse in Glasgow for the last date of Dutch symphonic metal band Delain’s short UK tour.
The doors opened promptly at 7pm and it was not long after as folks were still streaming into the venue that the first band ‘The Raven Age’ took to the stage. Fronted by George Harris, son of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden fame, I was unsure what to expect of tonight’s five piece opener. They were straight up modern metal, powerful riffs and screaming guitars, but fronted by more melodic vocals. I can see potential as the on stage performance by the band was very good, and they certainly got the crowd who could see them warmed up, sadly I think a lack of live seasoning combined with the poor sound in The Cathouse let them down tonight. Even so, by the end of their set a good number of folks had fists in the air for their final song.
It was a very quick changeover that got Wolf on the stage, and they didn’t hang about with their upbeat metal opener. Wolf play straight up heavy metal with a strong British influence, with both Niklas and Simon sporting the faithful flying V’s for this show. As live performances go I really enjoyed the energy that Wolf put into the set, powering through tracks from their extensive catalogue while rarely remaining still for more than a few seconds. Both Anders on bass and Simon on guitar alternated between standing up front, pointing the guitars out into the crowd. Moments later back a few paces guitar held vertical. The initial crowd response may have been a bit lacklustre but by the time Niklas had the front few rows singing along to ‘Voodoo’ the atmosphere had livened up significantly and the remaining couple of tracks were greeted with cheers and fists aloft. These guys know how to put on a top class metal show and are well worth catching next time they are out here.
The stage has been cleared with, with the exception of the drum kit and keyboards at equal distances from the centre rear stage, and Charlotte’s signature microphone stand. There is an air of anticipation in the venue as the band can be seen making their final preparations just off stage. As the lights go down and the intro track starts up, the room erupts with cheers and more people stream in from the bar and merchandise area. Timo strides to the front and stand on the box, thrusting his arms in the air to garner yet more cheers from the audience, who reciprocate perfectly as Charlotte comes on stage to greet them. Opening into thundering fan favourite ‘Go Away’ the whole front row (and many further back) have their hands in the air and are singing back to the band. Following straight up with ‘Get the Devil Out of Me’ the crowd were bouncing along with the band to this high energy number, and from the smiles on stage it’s clear that the band are having just as much fun playing to us tonight.
It was four songs in which demonstrated that we were not just getting a high energy performance, as Charlotte sang the opening lines to ‘Stardust’. Her vocals are crisp and clear, and there is not a soul here tonight who was not hanging off each and every chilling word she sang. Throughout the set there were faces front to back singing along to each and every word which really added to the atmosphere in The Cathouse tonight. It was when Charlotte said ‘It is explicitly encouraged and appreciated if you sing along’ just before opening into ‘Sing to me’ that the roof was raised damn convincingly as everyone joined in.
We saw a couple of lineup changes for Delain tonight which gave the stage a new Dynamic. Unfortunately bassist Otto was injured at the first UK show so was unable to perform tonight, fortunately the band found an alternative solution to ensure the show went on! In addition we saw guitar shredder Merel Bechtold of Mayan join the band on stage which, with her 7 string axe, really added some depth to the live sound this time around. In contrast to the fairly poor quality audio experienced during the support acts, Delain sounded absolutely 100% spot on. From the clarity in Charlotte’s voice to the clear guitar work from Timo & Merel. Backed up by the thundering yet not over powering drum work of Ruben Israel, and the sometimes subtle but always superb keyboard work from co-founder Martijn Westerholt, this was turning into a top notch live performance by any standards.
What was once the final song Delain would play at a show, we get to hear ‘The Gathering’ about halfway through the set, and this is always a firm favourite evidenced by the whoop that came from the crowd on the opening bars! Mixing in punishing guitar riffs and upbeat vocals with the more haunting choruses and synth work this song always makes my spine tingle, today sounding as fresh as the first time I heard it played live. It seemed like no time at all that we heard the closing bars of ‘April Rain’ an Charlotte announcing their final song, the appropriately named ‘Never Enough’ and as that song finished the lights dropped and the band waved their goodbyes and left the stage.
There is the inevitable encore dance that goes one, where some fans patiently wait and others cheer, clap and chant util the band return. Not tonight, everyone cheered them off and the cheering and clapping continues throughout the very short interlude until the came back out to play one of their darker heavier numbers, ‘Mother Machine’. The final song of the night is a very fitting track which will light a fire in the heart of everyone present. ‘We are the others’ is an anthem which pays tribute to Sophie Lancaster and the alternative culture as a whole. It also brings the crowd together as one, anyone present only needed to look around to see everyone singing in unison to this emotive song. All too soon the show was over, and as a fitting end all the band members lined up to take a bow (or four) to the crowd, as Charlotte thanked everyone sincerely for coming out tonight to show their support.
There is no question, this was one of the finest and most energetic sets I have seen Delain play to date, and is the best live show I have seen all year.
Get the Devil Out of Me
Army of Dolls
Milk and Honey
Here Come the Vultures
Sing to Me
We Are the Others