Last modified: 12 Oct 2006
What a gig last night! Delirious? played the opening night of the UK Tour at the Southampton Guildhall, and as I hinted at in yesterdays post about the Tour Rehearsals, there were some superb moments. I arrived at the venue for the second day running, in time for the sound check. This time I watched most of it from up high in the balcony, which offered an excellent view of the stage. I had a short moment of panic when my camera decided that its memory card was not valid, but visions of not being able to take any photos of the gig disappeared when a bit of fiddling around solved the problem. When Delirious? had finished, Tim Hughes and his band took their turn to have a sound check and I joined Delirious? in the catering area for some dinner. When the d: boys wondered off, Tim H's band came in for their food and I chatted to a few of them for a while. It turns out that Mark, the bass player, was Jon Thatcher's stand-in last year when he missed a tour of Australia due to the birth of his son, and Paul the drummer had been Stew Smith's stand-in earlier this year on the US tour. Steve the keyboard player was no stranger either, being Cathy Burton's regular keys man.
Delirious? sound check. (Top-Right: Paint The Town Red video.
Bottom-Right: Rehearsing the Happy Song keyboard routine)
Back in the Delirious? dressing room, the band were milling around, checking their e-mails and passing the time until they were due on stage. As the time arrived for Tim Hughes to take the stage, I decided to go and watch from in the crowd, only to change my mind when I saw how packed the auditorium was. You couldn't squeeze from the backstage area to the first row, the crowd were crammed in so tightly. Instead I watched Tim and his band while looking over Trevor's (monitors engineer) shoulder at the side of stage. It pretty soon became clear that the crowd absolutely loved Tim Hughes! They cheered him at every chance, sang practically every word, and worshipped to his songs through out. I watched, deeply impressed, as he kept the crowd's attention and performed a superb set littered with familiar worship songs, belted out at full pace. I don't usually watch the entire support set, but I enjoyed every minute this time.
Martin and Jon dressed in white (note the 'bat wings')
With Tim finished, I headed back to find the d: boys. I walked into their dressing room and very nearly walked back out thinking I'd got the wrong room. Inside they were all dressed in brilliant white suits, each with it's own unique twist. As my eyes took in the scene, Jon lifted up his arms to reveal bright red bat wings sown into the sleeves of his jacket. Eventually it was time for the boys in white to hit the stage. There was a general nervousness about the opening sequence. The plan was for the band to appear on stage from behind a large black curtain, with spotlights shinning down on them so that the crowd could see their outlines through the curtain. Then, as the opening song Here I Am Send Me kicks off, the curtain was to drop dramatically to the floor, revealing the band in their new outfits. The problem was, yesterday's rehearsal of the curtain drop was less than perfect, with the curtain getting stuck half way and the band having to stop while the crew removed it.
The crowd watching Jon
I stood just off stage with the band as they waited for their cue to go on stage and take up positions behind the curtain. The intro music begun, with it's wailing sirens and flashing red lights, and the band marched onto the stage. The spotlights came on, the crowd cheered, the song started...and bang - the curtain dropped to the floor in near perfect fashion. A collective sigh of relief, not least from the poor crew member with the stressful job of pulling the rope to release the curtain. It was then that I discovered to my horror that my trusty pen was no longer in my pocket - relying on memory to write my review later on was never going to be a good idea, I needed a pen to take notes during the show if I was to remember all the best parts. Tour manager Ian Cattle came to my rescue, offering me a chunky marker to make my notes.
Time for me to head to the pit for some photos. The usual lecture from the security man by the crowd barrier about 3 songs maximum then I'd have to leave. Anyone holding a camera was going to follow his rules no matter what pass they were holding. Anyway, I shuffled my way up and down between stage and crowd, taking as many photos as I could, before getting an appreciative smile from Mr Security as I left before the end of the third song without giving him hassle. My next plan of attack was to head back to the balcony. No easy task when the venue was absolutely jammed full of fans. I pushed my way back, ran up far too many flights of stairs and found a suitable vantage point in the balcony to take some more photos.
Top: The History Maker video. Bottom: Performing the Happy Song
I stayed in the balcony for several songs, just taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the show. The view from up there was excellent, and I could really appreciate the full impact of the lights and visuals being used on stage. The History Maker video in particular was fantastic. Loads of mock Newspaper frontpages, featuring photos of fans and lyrics as headlines. Brilliantly produced. I headed back down to the stage to my earlier position just behind the monitors desk a couple of meters to Jon and Stew's left. From there I took more photos while the band entertained the crowd with a comedy version of Happy Song. When the show finally came to an end I joined up with the band back in their dressing room as they chatted about the highs and lows of the show. Everyone seemed exceptionally pleased with how the opening night had gone.