Now Is The Time - Live At Willow Creek (Delirious.org.uk)
Last modified: 28 Sep 2006
Author: Dave Wood
Date: 28 Sep 2006
Now Is The Time - Live At Willow Creek
Furious? Records - FURYDVD02
DVD: 1hour 26mins (+43mins of bonus features) CD: 1 hour 18mins
If there's one thing that fans have constantly been demanding of Delirious? for many years now, it's to release a live concert DVD. After years of resisting the urge, Delirious? have finally given the fans what they wanted in the form of this quite incredible DVD and CD combo. Almost anyone who has ever witnessed a Delirious? concert will tell you that this band are at their absolute best on stage, and this package captures the very essence of a Delirious? show.
It's one thing to release a concert DVD, but in these days of iPods and mp3s, it's only natural to release an audio version too. The more money-grabbing bands out there would have made the DVD and CD two separate products, charging fans for each. Delirious? knew this would never sit comfortably with their dedicated fan base, so they've generously bundled both into the same packaging - and all for the price of standard DVD. True value for money.
So, where to begin? The DVD and CD contain a fairly similar tracklisting, but with a few alterations. A couple of songs appear on the DVD but not the CD, and vice versa. Taking the DVD as a starting point, you slip it into your player and are greeted by the Furious? Records logo, which makes way for shots of a crowd, close ups of the band's instruments and eventually the "Now Is The Time - Live At Willow Creek" logo, all to a backing track of Now Is The Time. In fact, as the DVD's menu appears and you navigate your way around, you soon discover that each page of the menu plays a different track from the DVD in the background as you browse the options.
From the main menu you can choose 'Play' to start the concert, 'Song Selection' which lets you jump straight to a specific song in the concert, 'Bonus Features' (more on that later), and 'Audio Options' which has a selection of Dolby 5.1 Surround, Dolby 2.0 Stereo or 5.1 DTS Surround. There is also a neat option to turn Lyrics on or off - when 'on' they appear as subtitles during the songs (karaoke anyone?). The main menu also has an option to view the DVD's credits, listing all the people involved in the project.
The concert starts as you would expect with a dimly lit stage, and the members of Delirious? walking on with their instruments. Stu and Martin meet in the middle of the stage with guitars slung around their necks, with the opening notes of 'Here I Am Send Me' already ringing around them. As the song begins you instantly realise this is a highly polished, slick and professionally put together DVD. Camera edits are perfectly timed to synchronise with parts of the song, and cleverly designed to show you everything that's going on. One minute you're watching a close up of Martin's lips, next you get a wide shot of the bright lights shinning down on the whole stage. Then it's a quick glimpse of Stew mouthing the words of the song from behind the drums before we get a look at Stu, zooming in on his guitar.
Sometimes live recordings suffer from not sounding live enough. This DVD captures enough of the crowd in the audio to prove that it was recorded live, but without drowning out the main focus on the band and their music. The lighting is also very well handled, and the occasional wide angled shot shows numerous lights shinning down on the stage, picking out the band and complimenting the style of each song. Rain Down is a perfect example of this, with vertical downward pointing beams of green light almost looking like rain itself as the song finishes.
Another thing that shines out early on is how relaxed and comfortable the band look. Martin oozes confidence and this shows through his vocals which are crisp and expressive in various different emotions through out the show. As for the crowd, they are full of energy, jumping, stretching out their arms and clearly excited and enthusiastic, especially those right at the foot of the stage. The arena looks huge and packed to every corner.
As Rain Down ends, Martin leads the crowd into the first verse of Did You Feel The Mountains. Stew can be seen with his eyes clenched shut, arms spread out wide, singing earnestly. Before long we move into the funky opening of Solid Rock. Guitars, Bass and Drums carve out a pounding beat and the crowd can't resist clapping along. An occasional glimpse of the large video screens, behind and either side of the stage, show videos of enlarged lyrics flashing in time to the tune. Martin stays fairly stationary at his microphone stand for most of the song, until he picks up a bright red megaphone for the Solid Rock rap. His face pushes right into the camera as he gets his point across. Stu, on the other hand, is more animated than ever before. Jumping, moving, swaying, arms waving.
The opening of title track Now Is The Time seems different some how, with even more of a U2 feel to it. There are plenty of close ups of Stu's fingers on guitar strings and a camera high above Stew's drum kit looks down over his head. Towards the end, Martin picks up a spotlight and shines it across the crowd as they sing "Now is the time for us to shine". He then reads out a passage, before shining the light on to Stu as his blistering guitar solo bellows out.
In the semi-darkness we see Jon remove his guitar and create some eerie sounds from his tiny keyboard as Our God Reigns gets underway. There is a gentle lull of music as Martin sings the vocals. The chorus is beautiful, a real goose bumps moment, with the crowds hands pointed upwards. Delirious? have turned this song into something nothing short of outstanding. It is absolutely stunning and one of the highlights of the DVD. Make no mistake, the chorus of this song will be heard in churches around the world for many years to come.
The next song is the chorus of What A Friend I've Found. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, friend forever" sings Martin gently as the crowd join in. With just a few plucked strings and the occasional prompt from Martin, the crowd do all the work. Emotion again hangs thickly in the atmosphere and you almost feel a lump rising in your throat. If that song doesn't bring a tear to your eye, the next one will get you. Miracle Maker sees Martin kneeling to sing with unbelievable tenderness and the look of vulnerability on his face makes you think he could burst into tears at any minute. A peculiar sparkling dust seems to twinkle across the screen though out. Then the large lettering of words in a multitude of languages emerge out of the video screens, superimposed over the shots of the band, culminating in the English translation - 'Holy'. The instrumental section has such majestic power you can't help but be moved. Martin brings the song to an end with the clever transition into the next track as he sings "I'm standing with the faith of a history maker".
The contrasting bright lights of History Maker breach the darkness as Martin wonders over to put an arm around Stu's shoulders. Before long it seems that everyone is bouncing along to the song: the crowd, Martin, Stu, Tim, Jon... ok, maybe not Jon, let's not get too carried away. A chorus of "Holy is the Lord" is repeated over and over and then Martin asks everyone to drop to their knees and recognise that "God is here... Take my life and do something great with it" he prays on behalf of everyone present. The crowd comply, and only rise back to their feet when Martin reads from the bible "They stood upon their feet, a huge army". The effect is spine tingling as the crowd again sing "Holy is the Lord".
Paint The Town Red opens with Stu's guitar and Martin leading the singing "Oh, Here we come, here we come". In the background a video shows streets and city scenes behind the silhouetted band. On stage a blend of fast moving coloured lights shine down. Stew keeps a steady beat going as strobes flash about and the crowd sing "here we come" again and again. Then Martin again picks up his megaphone to proclaim "we're going to paint this big old town red!".
Things quieten down as Martin sits at the Rhodes keyboard and asks the crowd to get out their cellphones and "sing down the telephone". With just his keyboard playing as accompaniment, Martin starts to sing Every Little Thing. Close ups of hundreds of phones being held aloft fill the screen, and the cameras pick out individual phones so closely that you can almost read the number on the display. As the cameras pan out you see the entire arena is lit by phone light, like modern day candles at work in the darkness. The rest of the band join in with Martin, leading to yet more stunning guitar work. There is another tear jerking moment as the crowd and Martin repeat the chorus over and over, before Martin breaks into a couple of choruses of I Could Sing, including a Spanish version. On the CD this is a separate track in its own right, although the footage is the same as that tagged on the end of Every Little Thing on the DVD.
We move into black and white as the next song begins. We see Martin pulling off his shoes and laying them down on the floor next to him. "Take Off My Shoes" he sings. The haunting guitars, gentle keyboards and reverberating bass provide a mellow backing track to the heartfelt vocals. The song slowly builds until the band really let go into another instrumental masterpiece. The entire band work in harmony and it is impossible not to be moved by the beauty of the song. It is absolutely amazing and another one of the major high points in this remarkable DVD. Gradually the scene merges back into colour as some simple blue lights announces the start of Majesty.
The atmosphere is pure worship through out Majesty. The stand out bass adds weight to a deeply touching song. Majesty leads into another chorus of Our God Reigns as Martin says "come on Stu G" and makes way for an extended period of instrumental medicine. The band leave the stage only to return in answer to the demands of the crowd, who clap and shout "we want more". In the darkness we see Stu adjust his pedal board and from the dim blue lights the tinkering opening sound announce the arrival of encore Investigate. Tight shots of each band members face follow, giving us one last look at the band. Martin's vocals send shivers down your spine as he sings "You knew this life you'd made". Stu's solo nearly explodes out of your screen as the instrumental lead out goes into a frenzy of guitar static. There have been some live recordings of this song before, but none are a patch on this version. How many highlights can one DVD have?
The DVD ends with the band linking arms and taking a bow before departing from the stage. The CD on the other hand has a slightly different final few tracks. All This Time, with it's weird echo on Stu's vocals and Martin's bold and impressive chorus is a great track that they simply couldn't squeeze onto the DVD. The final track on the CD is the 'radio edit' of Our God Reigns. This non-live track has been modified from it's original album version to better fit US radio. A few tweaks including a re-recording of the line "God didn't screw up when he made you" to change it to "God didn't mess up..." The slightly controversial second verse of the song, which mentions HIV, the Devil, and drugs, has also been omitted during the new mix. It's a shame to lessen the impact of this hard hitting song, but at least the brilliance of the chorus remains intact.
Back to the DVD, there are three Bonus Features included. The first is a 30 minute documentary interview with the band. It starts with Martin talking about the early days of the band, with plenty of old photos and video footage thrown in. Martin is interviewed in his home studio, with his family portrait visible on the computer screen behind him. We are treated to cringe worthy photos of Martin with long blonde hair, Tim with huge glasses and even Stu (now bald) with long hair looking almost unrecognisable. Then we see Tim playing a piano at his home, before watching him being interviewed whilst fiddling with some equipment at the band's warehouse. Next we see Stew at his home, playing an electric drum kit, before Jon is seen washing the band's van and driving us around their home town. He even drops in to the band's Furious? Records offices to give us a guided tour.
Next we get an interview with Jon and his Dad, as they talk about the early Cutting Edge concerts and cassette tapes. Jon describes those early concerts as "a great way to meet girls". Later Martin tells us that Jon was a nuisance as a youngster, hiding alarm clocks under Martin's pillow to annoy him. He then concedes that Jon is "Delirious' secret weapon". In a rather moving and deeply poignant moment, Jon and his Dad look at photos of the car crash that nearly killed Martin. Seeing the mangled wreck of the car brings home the story of how Delirious? decided to give up their jobs and go full time as a band.
Stu is seen at his favourite place - the golf course. Martin later says "I don't know many guitarists who are better than him". Other intriguing moments during the interview include Stew confessing that his wife hates his "drumming faces" and Martin saying "we're yet to make our best record". The documentary ends with the words "to be continued..." a clear sign that the band will be around for some time to come.
The second bonus feature is a behind the scenes look at the concert at Willow Creek in Chicago that was filmed for the DVD. Cameras follow the band from the moment they arrive at the airport in Chicago. Showing them loading the vans, arriving at the venue and then setting up. Members of the crew talk to us and we see the band and crew discussing plans for the filming and chatting about Martin's socks.
The final feature is an interesting look at how a video is mixed and directed. It shows the 'monitor wall' - a series of 10 small screens displaying each of the different camera angles that are filming the song 'Fires Burn'. Overlayed is the voice of Darren the director, talking to the camera operators and making the call to change from one camera angle to the next.
This is quite simply the ultimate Delirious? product. If you buy nothing else from Delirious?, make sure you buy this. It blows the other live albums out of the water. And then some. Visually it is an absolute joy to watch. Bright, fast moving and never dull. The audio is as close as you can get to being there in person. There are so many highlights that it is impossible to choose the best track on the album, but the numerous instrumental moments when the band just get carried away with the music are breathtaking and worth the money alone. At least three tracks are in excess of 7 minutes long and a further seven are 5 or 6 minutes long, so you are certainly not short changed. Probably the thing I love most about 'Now Is The Time - Live At Willow Creek' is the way it captures the emotion of the big hitters like Miracle Maker, Our God Reigns, Take Off My Shoes, Every Little Thing and Investigate. Short of being in the front row of a Delirious? concert, this is as good as it gets. Buy it, and buy it now.