UK D:Tension Tour 2001 - London Shepherds Bush Empire (30 Nov 2001) (The Guardian Newspaper)
Last modified: 30 Nov 2001

Venue: London Shepherds Bush Empire
Source: The Guardian Newspaper
Author: John Aizlewood
Date: 30 Nov 2001

Delirious?'s defining moment occurs at the close of their set. I'm Not Ashamed is a Green Day-style, punky rock song. Singer Martin Smith, a slender, uncynical version of John Lydon, pogos like one possessed, and conducts the crowd through the stompalong chorus. "I'm not ashamed of the gospel," a jam-packed house bellows. "I'm not ashamed of the one I love." Delirious? are the sound of a militant Christianity that is not afraid to rock. And this is an expertly lit, ear-singeing, committed rock gig, albeit one without any jokes or swearing from the stage and with a quieter night than usual for the Empire's bars.

Delirious? are preaching to the converted, so there is little proselytising, more a sense of shared community. Delirious? have the same independent spirit as Crass and Ani DiFranco. Their fan base is sufficiently numerous to fill the Empire and chart their albums in Britain.

What, though, to do now? Although not as solidly Christian as Delirious?, U2 had a similar dilemma after 1981's October album. Overtly Christian rock, from the wretched Stryper to the syrupy Michael W Smith, has an unpromising history. Jars of Clay and DC Talk have upped the ante, however, and this is the seam into which Delirious? may tap.

Musically, the Christianity that underpins their life and work is irrelevant, and hearing the quintet is an exhilarating experience. Smith twice goes into the crowd and walks on their shoulders without falling; Tim Jupp's keyboards attack like 808 State's and Stuart Garrard's guitar-work is reminiscent of Travis's Andy Dunlop at his most inventive. And when Smith is drowned out during I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, it's because the chorus is worthy of peak-period Bon Jovi.

The band are less strong when the pace slackens. There Is an Angel plods as if it were carrying its own cross, Angel in Disguise never gets going and the constant positivity is wearing. Yet they can shift gear successfully and there is a Wake Up Boo!-style pop undertow to the almost secular Waiting for the Summer. More of that and Delirious? might just break out of their self-imposed ghetto.

4 out of 5 stars.

Related Pages:
Tours: D:Tension Tour